In a bizarre turn of events, as Jayanthi Natarajan resigned as Union Minister of State of Environment and Forests (Independent charge), she has been reportedly replaced by Veerappa Moily[i]. He holds Union Oil and Petroleum Ministry currently and will hold Ministry of Environment and Forests Ministry as an additional charge. Firstly there is issue of conflict of interest there, since projects from Oil and Petroleum ministry also come for environment clearances.
This choice of Veerappa Moily as the new Minister of Environment and Forests is shocking, ironical and unacceptable for many reasons. It seems the leadership of Congress and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has learnt no lessons from its Delhi election debacle. Mr. Moily’s appointment as Petroleum Minister in place of Jaipal Reddy was widely criticized as a sop to a specific private sector oil company[ii]. While we do not want to compare Mr. Reddy as Petroleum minister with Ms. Natarajan as Environment minister, Mr. Moily’s appointment as Environment Minister seems to cater to similar lobby for hydropower projects and dams.
Let us look at just a few instances to substantiate this.
Veerappa Moily laid the foundation stone of 85 MW Mawphu Stage II Hydel Project in Meghalaya in September 2012.[iii] The project is to be developed by NEEPCO (North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited). Shockingly Veerappa Moily laid this foundation stone even when the project did not have any of the statutory clearances from the Environment Ministry! This only indicates his callousness towards issues related to people and environment. The project has applied for 1st stage (Terms of Reference) Clearance only in January 2013 and that too has not been issued so far.
“Moily’s love for Hydels” Even as Hydel Power remains one of the most complex, controversial and problematic sectors with huge impacts on environment, people, downstream impacts, disaster implications, Veerappa Moily has been openly supporting Hydel power projects. He has been reported to have sent a note to the Prime Minister, pushing hydel power and Hydel Power Projects. This has been referred by the media as “Moily’s love for Hydels”.[iv]
Mr. Moily has urged the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister to “Fast Track” Hydel Projects, and specifically seems to favour NEEPCO and NHPC. NHPC already holds several hydel projects in Arunachal Pradesh including the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Project which is witnessing possibly the strongest protest in the country from downstream Assam. [v]
In 2011, Veerappa Moily actually wrote to MoEF against expanding boundaries of Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Dakshin Kannada.[vi] He wrote that people from affected regions will lose homes and livelihoods. But the region under expansion includes parts of reserved forests. Environmental groups stressed that the pressure against expansion is not coming from people but from the powerful hydel and timber lobby which is causing serious environmental and social impacts in the region.[vii]
Support for controversial Yettinhole Project Mr Moily is staunchly supporting the very controversial Netravathi Diversion project (which is now labelled as Yettinahole Diversion Project, only to mislead people) for his constituency of Chikkaballapur.[viii] He is even asking people of Dakshin Kannada not to oppose the project (he has lost elections from that area more than once). This project has fraudulently tried to escape environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. It entails 8 dams inside Western Ghats forest regions, affecting protected areas , a dam at Devaranyadurga which will submerge 1200 hectares of land including nearly 700 hecatres of forests and many villages. The proposal will cost minimum Rs. 100 Billion and is economically as well as technically unviable.[ix]
There is little doubt that Mr. Moily is an incorrect, inappropriate and unacceptable choice for the post of Union Minister of Environment and Forests. The UPA government is only committing blunders after blunders in the face of elections. We urge the UPA leadership to immediately change this decision. It would be in their own interest to do that.
email@example.com , SANDRP
PS: This Indian Express story seems to corroborate that the change is not for what is stated, but in favour of the Business and against the interests of the Environment and People. UPA will pay dearly for this: http://www.indianexpress.com/…/pm-wakes-up…/1210241/0
[vii] http://www.conservationindia.org/news/union-minister%E2%80%99s-letter-delays-extension-of-pushpagiri-wildlife-sanctuary-notification, http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/reserved-exploitation?quicktabs_1=1
SANDRP’s draft report on this issue can be found here:
Suggestions and comments are welcome.
Press Release 18.12.13
Multiple Dams for Mumbai Region have severe impacts and are unjustifiable
More than 50 people including tribal groups, social activists, water experts, ecologists and wildlife experts, academics came together for a brainstorming workshop about Dams coming up for Mumbai Region. The meeting was organized by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, Shramik Mukti Sangathana, Jalbiradari and Keystone Foundation.
About 12 dams are planned or are under construction to satisfy the increasing thirst of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). All of these dams fall in eco-sensitive region of the Western Ghats. They will together submerge more than 22,000 hectares of land, including nearly 7000 hectares of forests, lakhs of trees and more than 750 hectares of Tansa Sanctuary. They will affect a minimum of 100,000 tribals who depend on the forests and their ancestral lands for livelihoods. These dams include Kalu, Shai, Balganga, Susari, Khargihill, Bhugad, Pinjal, Gargai, Middle Vaitarna, Barvi and Poshir, among others. These are in addition to the dams already constructed for MMR water supply.
Tribals and other affected groups of Thane and Raigad region have been strongly opposing these projects. Most people in Mumbai seems unaware of their struggles or impacts of these projects.
Most of these dams are escaping the social and environmental impact assessments and management plans, environment clearance requirements, environmental monitoring or public consultations due to blunders in environmental impact assessment notification of Sept 2006, which excludes domestic and industrial water supply projects from environmental clearance process.
MMR has not done any sort of options assessment before pushing these projects and cursory review show that many options exist. At the city or Region level, there is no shortfall in water supply currently and the existing problems are due to inequitable, non-transparent, non-participatory and wasteful water governance in MMR. Municipal corporations under the MMR which are pushing new dams do not treat even 15% of their sewage. Bhiwandi Nizampur & Vasai Virar Corp do not treat ANY of their sewage. The Mumbai Region has no estimate of its rainwater harvesting potential, and there is little effective action in this direction despite high rainfall. Water supply and distribution losses are over 30%. Local water sources like rivers, lakes and wells are being destroyed by pollution and encroachments. There is no interest in democratizing governance of MMR water sector.
We urge the MMR region to address these issues first, which would lead to sustainable water supply to the city and suburbs. Konkan Irrigation Department which is constructing most of these projects has violated several laws related to tribal and forest rights, environment, forests and resettlement and has been mostly favoring a single contractor, illegally.
We strongly urge the MMRDA, MCGM, Municipal Corporations of MMR, Maharashtra government, Union Ministry of environment and forests, Maharashtra Forest Department, National Board of Wildlife and all others concerned to ensure that following steps are taken up urgently and in a credible way:
Forests in the Western Ghats are Mumbai’s and MMR’s lungs. They are the watersheds of rivers and water sources like Tansa and Bhatsa and naturally purify Mumbai’s & MMR’s drinking water.
Rich tribal culture of Thane and Raigad is a shared heritage of Mumbai and we have no right to displace the tribals or destroy their livelihoods.
Stop this destruction in Mumbai’s backyard.
Indavi Tulpule (firstname.lastname@example.org), Shramik Mukti Sangathana, Thane;
Surekha Dalvi, (email@example.com) Shramik Kranti Sangathana: Raigad;
Brian Lobo, (firstname.lastname@example.org) Shramik Kashtakari Sanagthana: Dahanu;
Prashant Sarkhot, (email@example.com)Shai Dharan Viroddhi Samiti,
Sitaram Shelar (firstname.lastname@example.org) YUVA, Mumbai;
Janak Daftari (email@example.com), Jal Biradari, Mumbai
Shripad Dharmadhikary (firstname.lastname@example.org), Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune
Parineeta Dandekar (email@example.com, 09860030472), SANDRP, Pune
Today (on Dec 17, 2013) is the 8th day of indefinite fast by flood activist Shashi Shekhar in Sitamarhi (Bihar) with a demand to stop work on the unwanted and unjustified embankment along the Jheem river (part of Adhwara group of rivers in North Bihar) and for bringing Lakhandehi river back to its path where it was flowing less than a decade back. Several others have joined the fast since it started on Dec 10, 2013.
The demand is to prevent the shifting of river Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) toward east and to divert the river towards the west, so that the 147 km stretch of the original course resumes to get the river water, thereby helping hundreds and thousands of farmers, who are presently facing water scarcity. This can be done by desilting of the Lakhandehi river. The demand is also to stop work on the embankment along the Jheem River.
We are copying below the statement below compiled by Megh Pyne Abhiyaan, Bihar, from the statements and reports provided by Mr Shashi Shekhar. It explains the background of the situation.
Bihar government that has taken the decision of building the embankment without any consultation with the local people and even without any impact assessment and seems to be driven by contractor interests and have not yet bothered to respond. The state water resources ministry says that only the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar can take a decision on this and we see not effort from that quarter. With every passing day the health of Mr. Shekhar is deteriorating and the state government will be held responsible for any eventuality in this regard.
All this also highlights a serious anomaly in the Government of India’s EIA notification of Sept 2006 that excludes embankments and other such flood related structures from the need for environment clearances, environment impact assessments and also any public consultation process. This is clearly wrong since embankments have huge social and environmental impacts. This needs to urgently change, but the MoEF has not done that in spite of numerous letters to the ministry since 2006.
Local media is reporting on this on daily basis; the national media is yet to carry this except an isolated report or two. We hope national media carries this important news.
PS: On Dec 19, 2013, Eklavya Prasad conveyed: Flood-activist Shashi Shekhar’s indefinite fast (against the construction of embankments along Adhwara Samuh and demanding de-silting of River Lakshmana Ganga (also known as Lakhandehi) was called off last evening. The negotiations between the district administration/state and Shashiji went off well and ALL his demands were have been accepted. According to Shashiji his indefinite fast has helped to take issues to a logical conclusion!
Sangharsh Yatra – A incessant protest for service, development and justice
Highlight On December 10, Shashi Shekhar, a well-known flood activist from Sitamarhi district of north Bihar started an indefinite fast on the banks of River Lakshmana Ganga (also known as Lakhandehi), as part of Sangharsh Yatra, protesting against the construction of embankments along Adhwara Samuh rivers.
Background River Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) previously flowed into India near pillar number 32 at Dularpur village in the Sonbarsa block of Sitamarhi district after crossing Simraha in Nepal. The distance between these two villages across the border is approximately 1.5 kilometers (km). However, presently the river has shifted almost 1-1.5 km east from its original location (i.e pillar number 32). The reason for this shift is being attributed to the siltation that has occurred, 8 km north of the Indo-Nepal border around Laxmipur village, which is located in Nepal. Because of this shift, the river on the Indian side has now started flowing near pillar number 35 at Choti-Bharsar village.
The shift in the river’s course towards east has resulted in its draining into river Jamuda, which is a part of the Adhwara-Samuh. Additional water of river Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) in river Jamuda has started causing floods thereby affecting Sitamarhi, Darbhanga, and a small part of Madhubani districts. People fear that the consistent shifting and flooding of Lakhandehi towards the east will lead to the flooding of the river Jheem, which is also a part of the Adhwara-samuh. They believe that flooding of Jheem will create havoc in the region as Sonbarsa block will get inundated. The shifting of the Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) from the west to east has dried up the original 147 km stretch of the river (in India), causing problems for the local farmers. Sustenance of productive agriculture along the old course of Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) is posing as a huge challenge.
The protest According to Shekhar, since 2002 he has been fighting against the mindless construction of embankments by writing letters to various government authorities and holding discussions with the concerned officials. However, there has been no positive response from the Bihar government, forcing him to take the extreme step of indefinite fast to protect the rivers from further destruction.
According to Shekhar this indefinite fast is to attract state government’s attention to prevent the shifting of river Lakshmana Ganga (Lakhandehi) toward east and to divert the river towards the west, so that the 147 km stretch of the original course resumes to get the river water, thereby helping hundreds and thousands of farmers, who are presently facing the wrath of river water scarcity. On the other hand, Shekhar is also trying to address the problems of farmers around and along the river Jamuda of excessive floods, being caused by the the draining of the river Lakshmana Ganga’s (Lakhandehi) water into river Jamuda. The other reason for Shekhar to resort to an indefinite fast is to highlight the skewed flood management strategy adopted by the state government. According to him, the shifting of Lakhandehi is causing excessive floods in Adhwara-Samuh. However, the state instead of constructing ‘thokars’ (boulder structures) to divert Lakhandehi from east to west, is investing in construction of embankments along the rivers of Adhwara Samuh.
The sheer diversion of the river Lakhandehi will substantially reduce the incidences of floods in Adhwara Samuh. This simple logic/solution is being ignored by the state government under the pretext of Lakhnadehi being a trans-boundary river, as if no structural intervention has ever taken place in any trans-boundary rivers in north Bihar. According to him the state government is using the scenario to basically push for the mindless construction of embankments along the Adhwara Samuh rivers. The embankments that are being constructed are approximately 20-25 feet tall and the distance between two embankments is 80-500 feet. Shekhar is unable to fathom the technical reasons for the constructions of these embankments along the rivers that stay dry for almost four months a year and are only 20-40 feet wide.
Shekhar is raising strong objections to the manner in which embankments are being constructed and repaired on Adhwara Samuh rivers by contractors – M/S Brahamputra Construction and M/S Avantika Dhara Reddy and Brothers. With support of police officials and some bureaucrats, these contractors have forcibly taken lands from the farmers by threatening them to sign on false papers. Shekhar claims that no compensation has been given by the government for the land that is inside and outside (immediate vicinity) of the embankment. The land acquired for the construction of the embankment is what has been compensated, though farmers have been offered a pittance as compensation against their land.
According to Shekhar, all statutory compliances have been flouted. BIS states that excavation of earth should take place at the distance of 80 feet from the embankment. He mentions that the BIS also states that apart from leaving a distance of 80 feet the excavation should happen parallel to the embankment in small stretches of 20 feet length and 1-3 feet depth. The reason for the excavation to happen in small stretches is to prevent formation of drainage along the embankment. In reality, the excavation is taking place haphazardly. The contractors/petty contractors are extracting earth within 2-5 feet from both sides of the embankment; with an approximate depth of 10 feet and in the process the standing crops have been destroyed for which no compensation has been given to farmers. Shekhar states that the present practice is turning out to be a big scam which he calls as ‘Mitti Ghotatla’ – Soil/Clay scam. Felling of trees along Lakhandehi, Adhwara Samuh and Bhagmati rivers have been carried out for construction purposes. All this is having an adverse environmental/ecological impact on the rivers and human population. Shekhar is unable to fathom why the state government is not keen on diverting river Lakshmana Ganga’s (Lakhandehi) water which will cost far less than constructing embankment on Adhwara Samuh.
Through his indefinite fast, Shekhar is demanding rightful compensation for the affected farmers; a high level enquiry into the illegal manner in which embankments have been constructed along Adhwara Samuh rivers by deceiving local villagers; withdrawal of false police case against satyagrahis fighting to protect the river; an investigation of links between both the contractors — M/S Brahamputra Construction and M/S Avantika Dhara Reddy and Brothers — and Naxalite groups; and an enquiry into the soil/clay scam worth Rs 200 crore in Bagmati and Adhwara Samuh rivers.
Shashi Shekharji has been able to generate support from opposition leaders within the state, farmers and spiritual people from the region but is looking forward to additional support from all quarters to create pressure on the state government to explore alternatives….
(Compiled by – Nidhi Jamwal, Bhavya Durgesh Nandini and Eklavya Prasad)
Statement in Hindi
Þ Personal communication Shashi Shekhar, Dec 2013;
Þ Brief – Sangharsh Yatra, Dec 2013
Uttarakhand Flood disaster, June 2013:
A Short film on: Role of Dams in Uttarakhand Flood Disaster
Return of Ganga, SANDRP and VAMTAM has produced a 12 minutes film Flood Ravage and the Dams of Uttarakhand (Uttarakhand Flood Disaster – June 2013), available in Hindi and English.
In June 2013, the state of Uttarakhand, nestled in Western Himalayas in Northern India faced its worst flood disaster in recorded history. During the disaster and after, both electronic and print media, in English and local languages played an important role in highlighting the manmade nature of this disaster. Some of the man-made facets include the climate change, callous administration with zero disaster preparedness or response and haphazard, coupled with unregulated and unscientific infrastructure building in fragile and vulnerable ecology of the Himalayas and the upper GangaRiver Basin. The building of huge road network, tourism onslaught & infrastructure and hydropower projects, neglecting the disaster vulnerabilities of the region was generally talked about.
This short film tries to give an idea of the role played by existing and under construction hydropower projects in the disaster. It presents information, photos, maps, videos, google images and voices of the affected areas and people in the context of hydropower projects. It contains photos of the dams and tunnels of the hydropower projects before and after the disaster. It provides some first hand accounts of the impacts of hydropower projects on communities. While climate change was a trigger for the disaster, the role played by the blasting, tunneling, damming and deforestation, related to hydropower projects was significant.
SANDRP and many concerned organisations had collectively written to the authorities to investigate the role of the hydropower projects in Uttarakhand disaster. All these writings and advocacy letters is available at – https://sandrp.wordpress.com/category/uttarakhand/.
However, it was the Supreme Court order of Aug 13, 2013 that clinched the matter, leading now to the constitution of a committee headed by Dr Ravi Chopra. It is hoped that since it is appointed following the orders of the Apex court, it will be able to perform its role independently, and get to the bottom of this issue.
We hope this short film will be useful to all concerned including the media, various arms of the governments in Himalayan region in India and neighbouring countries, academic institutions, judiciary, non government organisations and most importantly, the communities who have suffered in the disaster and who are struggling against the onslaught and impacts of massive hydropower projects being developed all across the Himalayan region. We hope the film helps contribute in our collective efforts so that when such event strikes again (climate scientists are telling us that more such disasters are likely all across the Himalayas with greater frequency and intensity in changing climate), their impacts are not compounded further by destructive hydropower projects.
The film is available at: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/uttarakhand-flood-ravage-and-the-dams-short-film-english/ (English) and https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/uttarakhand-flood-ravage-and-the-dams-short-film-hindi/ (Hindi).
Comments on the film and contributions towards costs of this film are welcome. Please also help us take the film to wider groups of concerned people.
The October – November, 2013 edition of SANDRP’s magazine ‘Dams, River and People‘ is now available online. This is the 9-10th issue of magazine in its 11th volume. Like its previous issues, this issue too is packed with indepth analysis of matters concerning dams, river as well as larger environment. The contents magazine are mentioned in the list below. The magazine in pdf format is available here — http://sandrp.in/DRP_Oct_Nov_2013.pdf. Several of the articles are also available in SANDRP’s blog and they can be viewed just by clicking on the name in the list. Enjoy reading.
|Ten Times Bigger Mohanpura Dam in Madhya Pradesh||1|
|Bansujara Dam: Another Shoddy EIA by WAPCOS||5|
|Community Fish Sanctuaries protect the fish and their rivers||9|
|Mah ignores Riverine Fisheries||11|
|E-flows in India – groping in darkness||12|
|MEF Committee on UKD Hydro: Need full mandate||14|
|A different COP that actually addresses climate change||15|
|New Publication: Yamuna Manifesto||16|
|Kasturirangan Report – a blueprint for political polarization in Kerala?||17|
|Gujrat builds Garudeshwar weir, Statue of Unity Without Clearances||20|
|“Address Impacts of Small Hydel Projects”||21|
|Media Hype Vs Reality||23|
|Hydro power projects violating SC order in greenest state of India||25|
|North East India Update||29|
|New Flood Forecasting System from Bangladesh||31|
|SANDRP’s Short Film on “Flood Ravage and the Dams of Uttarakhand”||32|
24.75 MW Mouneswar + 24.75 MW Basavanna ‘Small’ Hydel Projects = One large HEP
According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), hydel projects between 2-25 MW are classified as Small Hydel Projects (SHPs). These projects are exempt from Environmental Clearance, impact assessment, public consultation or any monitoring from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), receive subsidies from the MNRE and apply for Carbon Credits from United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Though the concept of encouraging small hydel projects as sources of decentralized energy, also supplying off grid power seem welcome, the happenings on ground are vastly different. As these projects are excluded from environmental governance, there are several examples of fraudulent Small Hydro projects, which exploit the lax governance mechanism to hoodwink all concerned.[i]
One such recurring fraud is showing two separate projects on paper, in order to avoid environmental scrutiny and avail subsidies meant for SHPs, while building one single big dam on site, clubbing the two projects. Projects like Perla and Shemburi by Greenco in Mangalore or Maruthi Gen projects in Sakaleshpur (http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report-maruti-power-gen-s-hydel-project-an-environmental-disaster-1617237), all in Karnataka Western Ghats, are two example of this fraud.
One more case has now come to light, this one from Gulberga district in north Karnataka when I visited the project area recently. Although called by two different names, 24.75 MW Mouneswar Small Hydel Project and 24.75 MW Basavanna Hydro Project are operating from a single dam/diversion weir across the KrishnaRiver, just downstream Narayanpur Dam. As such, the project should be considered as a single 49.50 MW hydel project and should undergo immediate environmental, social and legal scrutiny and further assessment. We tried to conatct the officials of the company several times for questions related to the projects, but we got no response.
24.75 MW Mouneswar and 24.75 MW Basavanna SHEPs are built across river Krishna in Benchagaddi village of Shorpur taluk of Gulberga district in Karnataka.
The projects have also applied for Carbon credits under the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Basavanna Hydro Project has been registered as a Clean Development Mechanasim (CDM) project with the UNFCCC on 28th December 2012 and its crediting period has been fixed as 1st March 2013 to 28th February 2023[ii]. 24.75 MW Mouneswar SHP has applied for registration[iii]. SANDRP has sent comments against registration of this project.[iv]
Shockingly, both projects have requested separate registrations, hiding the fact that both will be using the same dam, the same intake/power canal and the same tail race canal.
Project design documents (PDDs) submitted to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Board (UNFCCC – EB) mention the same coordinates as the project location:
Latitude- 16°19’52 “N
Longitude- 76°33’48” E
PDDs of both the projects do not even mention the other project, clearly misleading the UNFCCC. Not only do the PDDs show same coordinates, the lengths of the intake canals are exactly the same at 2771 meters, so are the RCC conduits and penstocks, because we are talking of the same project!
Carbon Credits are supposed to be provided to projects only when they prove beyond doubt that they will be economically unfeasible without such support. However, in this case the expenses of dam, power canal, and tail race tunnel is shared and hence the costs will be lowered, the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of the projects will be higher than what is quoted in the PDDs and they will be profitable even without additional ‘pocketable’ finance from the UNFCCC in the name of Clean Development! (IRR claimed in the PDD is 9.14% for Mouneswar SHP and 11.38% for Basvanna SHP.)
Same Proponent, different names
Interestingly, project proponents of both the projects are shown to be different in respective PDDs. For Mouneswar Small Hydel Project it is Lakshmi Jalavidyut Limited and that for Basavanna Hydro Project it is Krishna Hydro Energy Limited. However, the registered office of both these firms is the same! This address also belongs to Penna Cements, Hyderabad, which is a player in Mini hydel projects in Karantaka. Penna Cements and its subsidiary Pioneer Genco already operate two SHPs, each of 24.75 MW capacity across Cauvery in Karnataka.
From the ground
When SANDRP visited the project sites, the officials were hostile to any entry in the premises or even near the site.
The dam/ diversion weir built by the projects is inside the KrishnaRiver bed and diverts the water through a power canal which runs approximately 3 kms downstream. The power canal takes most of the water from the river rendering the river dry in lean season.
Farmers told power canal as irrigation canal:
When I talked with the farmers in the downstream, they told me that they were under the impression that this canal is meant for irrigation, like Narayanpur Dam canals in the upstream (about 26 km). However, Benchagaddi village which is situated next to the tail race canal of the project not allowed to take even its drinking water from the canal.
There have been strong protests from the villages to this project as the diversion has dried the river bed and more than 300 irrigation pumps of villages like Bechagaddi, Hosur and Yedalabhavi used for irrigating paddy are now useless. Karanataka Bhagya Jal Nigam had also taken serious exception to the projects and had ordered a stop work notice.[v] (It subsequently issued an NOC, without providing any resolution to the issues raised by it earlier.)
The Benchagaddi village which is right next to the power canal experiences power cuts lasting 18-20 hours daily. Around 40 farmers from this village lost their lands for the canal. Rates of compensation given were Rs 25-85 thousand per acre.
Shockingly fraudulent Local Stakeholder Consultations!
The projects have claimed to have organised ‘Local Stakeholder Consultations’ about the CDM mechanism, which is mandatory when applying for CDM credits. PDD claims that Mouneswar project organised stakeholder consultations on 21st December 2011 and Basavanna project organized it on 26th September 2011.
Now see this, both PDDs mentions exactly the same people asking exactly the same questions with exactly the same answers being given!! It is absolutely clear that these meetings and these reports are fake. Amazingly, UNFCCC could not see through this clear fraud.
Local Development through Small Hydels?
As per the villagers, affected families were promised a job in the power plant although none of them received any jobs there. Even the JCB and truck operators are from other states. Security guards too aren’t from the same village.
Unaddressed impacts of Submergence:
In Geddamari village near the diversion weir, around 15-20 families lost their lands for construction of the dam. Bill collector (Talathi) of the village told SANDRP that around 50 acres of land was SUBMERGED due to dam (diversion weir) construction. He further added that farmers whose lands were submerged, have not received the compensation as yet. They have been talking with the company and have been verbally promised some compensation, though nothing on paper. Problems in this village too are like Benchagaddi village. Limited drinking water, disturbed power supply etc.
Applicable for Environmental Clearance:
As the projects use a single dam and are a single project of 49.50 MW and they qualify for a full environmental clearance process, including an EIA, public hearing, and Environmental appraisal by the state or central EAC and an Environmental Management Plan. However, the projects have illegally escaped all this.
Executive Engineer of Krishna Bhagya Jal Nigam (KBJN) – controlling state authority in case of Krishna River- confirmed, “Both the projects are operating using the same weir .The power houses of two projects are housed behind the same diversion weir. There are three 8.25 MW turbines for each of the projects situated downstream of the same diversion weir.”
According to the Executive Engineer, KBJN has granted NOCs to both the projects and that both of them being fully operational for last 6-8 months. When SANDRP visited the project site, the HEPs were found to be fully operational.
24.75 MW Mouneswara and 24.75 Basvanna Projects are operating from the same diversion weir, use the same intake canal and same tail race. They are in fact one single project which has fraudulently shown itself as two separate projects. The proponent and the consultants have hidden this fact from the UNFCCC, the MoEF, the MNRE, KREDL, State Pollution Control Board and State Environmental Department. The Local Stakeholder Reports of the projects are a sham. Submergence impacts are still unaddressed.
These issues need to be addressed urgently by all concerned including the MoEF, the Karnataka Government, UNFCCC, MNRE and KREDL. Such frauds are giving a bad name to the all these institutes.
-Damodar Pujari (firstname.lastname@example.org) with inputs from Parineeta Dandekar
Deteriorating health over the decades of river Yamuna in Delhi is a perfect example of an abject governance failure. All grandiose plans to restore the river to its past glory have been in vain. Yamuna Action Plans (YAP) implemented since 1993 with a consolidated spent of around Rs 1500 crores have succeeded (sic) in only taking the river closer to its demise in the city-state.
So, it is but natural if one is tempted to search for a long awaited redemption for the river, at least in terms of vision (if any) and promises (action plan) made in the manifestos of the three key political parties seeking to gain a popular mandate in December 2013 to govern the city-state of Delhi.
Releasing a political party’s ‘manifesto’ in advance of a state or national election for membership to legislative assemblies or the Parliament has become routine. Of late in this age of 24×7 news coverage these have become a newsworthy event.
The manifestoes for the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections were released on 20 November 2013 by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Indian National Congress (INC) and on 26 November 2013 by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). These three political parties, AAP being a rookie, claim to be the key contenders for political power in Delhi.
A comparative assessment of the three manifestoes reveal none too hopeful picture for the city’s life-line river, Yamuna. Let me explain.
Is there a vision?
Creation of a ‘vision’ shall pre-requisite a holistic understanding of the issues involved. Prima facie, notwithstanding pious words, such understanding is conspicuous by its absence.
While both the AAP and the BJP do swear by river Yamuna being the life line river of the city-state and a national heritage respectively, for the INC it is no more than a source of water and dumping ground for sewage.
This vast difference of understanding between them is exhibited by AAP and BJP manifestos devoting at least a chapter to the river, while by the INC the river finds mention in a chapter devoted to the Delhi Jal Board, with a suffix titled ‘making every drop count’. For the INC to adopt the ‘business as usual’ approach in the matter is most perplexing since clearly it is this very approach that has seen the health of the river in the city go from bad to worse during its (INC) 15 year long reign since 1998.
Is there a viable action plan?
Ironically, there is one which could help the city bid a final good bye to the river. For if the INC had its way then the final nail in the river’s coffin – in form of its revived channelisation [one thought that the ghost of river channelisation had been buried with its disapproval in the current MPD (Master Plan of Delhi) 2021] and planned construction of dams upstream – is ready to be hammered.
On the contrary, BJP has been bold enough to commit itself to “Dirty water, flowing through nullas will NOT AT ALL be allowed to be deposited in Yamuna. Instead, it will be recycled and used for public parks, industries and also for toilets.” (Emphasis provided in the manifesto document itself). And yet, presumably with Akshardham standing in the flood plain like the proverbial mill stone around its neck, the party has failed to make any commitment on how it plans to deal with flood plain encroachment/s. It is not clear if it understands the importance of protecting the floodplain. Even as far its claimed objective is concerned, BJP has not shown how it aims to keep untreated sewage out of Yamuna.
With what purpose does BJP plan to constitute a ‘Delhi Yamuna Development Authority’ (while a PM appointed and LG chaired River Yamuna Development Authority already exists) remains unanswered? Although inclusion of this sentence with its belief on river Yamuna being a national heritage seems to suggest that the said authority might have a heritage angle to it?
Moreover, BJP’s press release (dated Nov 26, 2013) announcing the publication of its manifesto, strangely mentioned, “Beautification of Yamuna like Thames and Sabarmati rivers”. To put it most charitably, this also shows its short sighted vision. Yamuna is so unlike Thames, the very comparison shows how limited is its (BJP) understanding. As far as Sabarmati is concerned, the water that is seen in it, in the limited stretch within Ahmedabad is actually Narmada waters, meant for the drought prone Kutch and Saurashtra, illegitimately being used in Sabarmati. And downstream from the city, the river Sabarmati remains as dirty as ever!
The AAP scores most points here. It not only provides a preface to its action plan but devotes two para to keeping the city’s sewage and industrial waste away from the river. It also boldly commits itself to stopping encroachments in the river’s flood plains.
The problem as we see in these manifestos?
Bold statements apart, that “clean river is a revived river” imagery underlies all the three manifestos. This we see as one of the key problems with the approach taken.
A ‘revived’ river is not just a ‘clean’ river. It is also a river which if perennial (like river Yamuna) then it must flow round the year; whose flood plain is secure; which floods in a regular and natural manner and where biodiversity is thereby thriving. We find an absence of such inter-related allusion in all the three manifestos.
Yes, indeed river Yamuna is the city’s key supplier of water, but can that dependence justify it (river) being put on the line, as a living natural entity of unimaginable antiquity? If only there were efforts made to manage the water demands of cities, industry and irrigation, it is not impossible for the river and its dependent humans to co-exist in a state of mutual harmony and health.
Is there no silver lining?
There are quite a few. There is talk of rain water harvesting and grey water re-cycle to meet non potable water needs. Improved sanitation is another welcome objective.
The fact that perhaps for the first time ever, river Yamuna finds conspicuous mention in all the political party manifestos is a welcome beginning.
But if only, one of the root causes of the river’s ills, namely the impugned inter state MOU (which has enabled a total drying of the river in non monsoon months) on sharing of river Yamuna water signed in 1994 had been understood and addressed for its rectification in any of these manifestos?
The Yamuna Manifesto
Incidentally, a different, The Yamuna Manifesto has just been published. A bilingual (Hindi and English) publication, combining the views of activists and artists, blurring boundaries between fact and the imaginary, it is an attempt to widen ideas around ecology, to re-territorialize it, and to move beyond binary narratives of catastrophe and untouched nature, to one of multidimensional reframings. The political parties can possibly benefit from it. For copies, write to the author.
Manoj Misra (email@example.com)