UPDATE ON DAMS, OPTIONS & RELATED ISSUES

SANDRP, Issue 4, June 2002

INDEX

NATIONAL WATER POLICY

Jalbiradari opposes NWP2002

Alternative Policies

PM’s Speech: Extracts

A Comment on NWP

Some Expert voices on NWP2002

World Bank’s WRSS: Delhi consultation

SANDRP Comment on WRSS

SSP lobby decides Water Resource Secretary

Siliguri meeting on Dams and Development

DAMS

Can Bhakra give water to nearby villages?

Kanhar Dam: Saga of injustice

News from the Narmada valley

IPT demands halt to Maan construction

Indefinite Fast for Maan R&R

Financial Mismanagement in SSP

HYDRO PROJECTS

MoP’s Façade on R&R ‘Consultation’

A letter to Suresh Prabhu

SANDRP note on R&R in Power Projects

Does MoP Understand Environmental issues?

Teesta Hydel: Too many concerns

Maheshwar: Anti people decision

Athirapally Public Hearing throws many issues

SOUTH ASIA

Pak: Tarbela, Thal, CRBCP, Ghazi Barotha

Sri Lanka: Upper Kotmale

Nepal: Arun, Melamachy

AROUND THE WORLD

Massive anti dam demonstrations in Spain

Turkey, Canada, Malaysia, China

Irrigation Options

IRRIGATION

WATER SECTOR

GROUND WATER

Groundwater Polluted in Kanpur, Hapur, Delhi, NOIDA…

WATER SUPPLY OPTIONS

LAKES, TANKS, WETLANDS, GLACIERS

RURAL WATER SUPPLY

PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE WITH SANDRP

Parliamentary Standing Com on Rural Drinking Water

URBAN WATER SUPPLY

BOTTLED WATER BUSINESS

WATER PRIVATISATION

QUOTES

FLOODS

POLLUTION

RIVERS RELATED ISSUES

FOODGRAINS MANAGEMENT

AGRICULTURE

SUGAR

POWER OPTIONS

POWER

POWER FINANCE NEWS

ENVIRONMENT

WE AWAIT YOUR RESPONSES

SPECIAL REPORT:

KARNATAKA’S BLUFF: THE MAHADAYI DAMS

ABOUT THE UPDATE

Apologies for the delay in bringing out this fourth issue of the Update covering mostly the months of March and April. The Update on Dams, Options and Related Issues is being brought out by SANDRP with a hope that it will become a medium of useful information dissemination, information sharing & interaction. The update has been produced mainly from media sources, both from internet and printed editions and also from official websites and networks.  We would be happy to know your responses and suggestions about the update.

The update will be available both in electronic (text and word versions) and printed versions. The Updates are also available at http://www.narmada.org/sandrp.

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CONTACT INFORMATION: Himanshu Thakkar, Bipin Chandra, Ganesh Gaud, South Asia Network on Dams, River and People (A YUVA Project), C/o 53B, AD Block, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi 110 088. India. Ph: 747 9916. Email: cwaterp@vsnl.com. Web: www.narmada.org/sandrp


NATIONAL WATER POLICY


National Water Policy adopted The National Water Resources Council adopted the National Water Policy, 2002, which is a modified version of the policy of 1987. The revised policy was stuck for the last two years because several states had mainly opposed two issues related to the policy: the clause on setting up inter-state river basins, and on drawing up the national policy guidelines for water allocations among the states. Suggestions made by several States in the meeting were incorporated in the policy, which is a guideline for planned development and management of water resources at the national level. The meeting cleared the river basin clause after toning down the Centre’s role in the matter. But the issue of water allocation among states could not be finalised. States will now have to formulate their own State Water Policy backed by an operational Action Plan within two Years. The State Policy will have to take into account community participation and evolve its own detailed resettlement and rehabilitation policies for people displaced by the dams. 

Punjab Chief Minister opposed the revised policy saying “it did not take into account the riparian principles for allocation of water to the basin states”. (NWP2002, THE HINDUSTAN TIMES, THE HINDU 020402)

Jal Biradari opposes the NWP2002 The Jal Biradari has opposed the NWP2002. It has called for a countrywide movement to oppose privatisation and encourage community control. The NWP2002 does not fulfil the people’s expectations. The policy emphasises on private control by declaring water as an asset questioning the fundamental rights of the people. Supply of safe and adequate drinking water is the prime responsibility of the Govt. This anti-people policy has been declared despite the fact that an alternative water policy document was debated and prepared by large number of NGOs and was circulated to all the MPs, leaders of all parties including regional parties, media and academia. This shows how successfully the govt. has cheated and played with the future of common public. It negates the people’s ownership rather strengthens the centralised control. It is also shocking to see that water allocation priorities do not specifically mention about the protection of the interest of poor population, marginalized sections and marginalized areas such as drought prone areas. It should have been clearly mentioned that drinking water for whom, gets priority. Similarly, irrigation for which crop and region gets priority.

Earlier a Jal Sammelan organised by Rashtriya Jal Biradari in New Delhi on March 5 & 6, demanded that let people take care of their water resources the way they have been for hundred years. Rajendra Singh of Tarun Bharat Sangh, discussing Draft National Water Policy, said, “While the policy says water is a national asset, we feel it is community’s property. The people have been using traditional wisdom to harvest water at the grassroots level for years. The Govt. is trying to commercialise water.” He said that instead of promoting water harvesting techniques, the new policy has completely ignored it. People from 17 states gathered to express their views. Well known author and senior activist Anupam Mishra said “Earlier people used to take care of their needs through traditional structures. Now they are dependent on the govt. for drinking water and we can see the result. Reviving the structures and giving technology a cultural dimension can help solve our water problem.”

Alternative NWPPeople’s Science Institute has formulated an alternative water policy at a meeting at Dehra Dun on Jan. 30-31 and plans to advocate that the same be adopted. It also plans to take it across Himalayan communities as Himalayas is at the focus of this policy. The policy demands that the ownership of water should be with the people. The policy demands that small projects should be taken up for WRD and power generation.

Jal Biradari, at a meeting in Himmatsar in Bikaner on Jan. 26 and at a convention in Delhi on March 5-6 has adopted an alternative water policy, which stresses on community ownership of water and denounces any move to commercialise, centralize and nationalize water resources and its development and management. The meeting in Delhi strongly criticized the NWP draft. The meeting said that in stead of National perspective, WRD should be carried out keeping in mind the local peoples priorities. About allocation priorities, the alternative draft called for a distinction to be made between drinking water and domestic water use. Also, among crops, foodgrains should get priority and among the industries, non polluting and environment conscious industries should get priority. Rejecting the notion of inter-basin transfer of water as in NWP, the meeting said that first all local options must be exhausted before tampering with river flows. On river basin organisations, the alternative draft has demanded that such organisations should be formed watershed upwards. (RASHTRIYA SAHARA 020302, THE HINDU 040302, 080302, THE TIMES OF INDIA-D 070302, RASHTRIYA JAL BIRADARI PR 080402, others)

New water conservation law in AP The AP Water, Land and Trees Act, 2002, claimed to be one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation on water conservation and green cover, would come into effect from June 1. (THE HINDU 230402)



PM'S SPEECH

AT THE FIFTH MEETING OF THE NATIONAL WATER RESOURCES COUNCIL

EXTRACTS

Lakhs of villages in our country have become water-scarce or, worse still, no-source villages. Many towns and cities are facing acute shortage of drinking water and water for industrial use. Depletion of ground water resources, on which millions of rural families depend for their drinking water needs as well as irrigation, continues unabated. This is made worse by the growing pollution and inefficient use of surface water. Our culture and tradition enjoins upon us to treat our rivers as sacred. Yet, over the past few decades, more rivers are getting more polluted at more places than ever before. Scarcity of water is compounded by its unequal, irrational, and unjust distribution in both rural and urban communities.

Therefore, the situation is forcing us to recognize water security as an overriding national objective — both as an inseparable aspect of food security but also in its own independent right. While we prepare for the challenge ahead, we should critically re-examine the administrative framework and the policies we have actually implemented during the last 55 years for the water resources development.

We are, therefore, left with no alternative but to think radically, and come up with innovative and bold responses to the enormous challenge that our nation and our citizens are facing. What we need is an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach. An approach that covers not only technological aspects but also social, economic, legal, and environmental concerns.

In particular, right to drinking water should be accorded a priority over every other alternative use.

The policy should also recognize that the community is the rightful custodian of water. Exclusive control by the government machinery, and the resultant mindset among the people that water management is the exclusive responsibility of the government, cannot help us to make the paradigm shift that to participative, essentially local management of water resources. Both the Centre and the State governments should, therefore, actively seek the involvement of the community at all levels — from decision-making to monitoring the implementation of decisions.

Nowhere is community control more needed than in the augmentation, management, and equitable use of groundwater resources. I would like the State Governments to actively encourage community action, wherever necessary with appropriate group incentives, to harvest rainwater in order to recharge groundwater resources.

Let this meeting of the Council send out a powerful message that "harnessing of every drop of rainwater" is a national priority. We should lay special emphasis on localized, decentralized harnessing of water resources, which is most cost-effective and which also lends itself to better community participation.

Our catchword should be: "Catch the catchment". Wherever necessary, our farmers and rural communities should be encouraged to bund every field and bind every rivulet. This will prevent soil erosion and silting of the reservoirs. There is a suggestion that every village should earmark five percent of its area for creation of community water bodies, much like the community grazing grounds that still exist in many villages. It is a powerful idea whose time has come.

An issue that demands a critical look is the inefficient use of water in our agriculture and industry. Technologies and methods are available today whereby the agriculture sector could cut its water needs by 10 –50 %, industries by 40-90% and cities by 30 –35 % without any sacrifice of economic output or quality of life.

Another aspect that I would like to emphasize is transparency in the implementation of water projects. The government spends huge sums on these projects. However, the process of incurring expenditures, and its relationship to intended benefits is often opaque. The supposed beneficiaries often do not have an opportunity to know the details of expenditure on these projects, or to relate them to the benefits that are supposed to follow. Therefore, the National Water Policy should start a new culture of public monitoring of expenditure and outcomes of water projects.

The draft National Water Policy has rightly laid down the principle of "polluter pays" as the key to preventing pollution of water sources. While this is welcome, we should go a step further and make it clear that prevention of pollution and wastage of water is a National priority.” (PIB PR April 01, 2002, emphasis supplied)

COMMENT: What is noteworthy about the above statements is that most of them are contradicting the contents of water policy that the meeting was to pass! While some have passed it off as another of the April Fool’s day, we see a clear pattern in the dichotomy between what he says and what the water resources ministry does. Now some may pass it off as another version of the famous mask, but isn’t the issue too serious for that?


A COMMENT ON NWP-2002

The NWP 2002 document could not come out as a pro-people, environment-sensitive, conservation oriented tool assuring equity, justice and ecological sustenance vis-à-vis water resources development and management.

There is little rationality in the document with regard to conservation of water, its protection from pollutants and violations, immediate linkages of the water resources with land, forest, flora, fauna, agriculture and ecology.

The document builds the context for a centralised management of water resources. It is explicit in the statements that water – a natural resource can be ‘put to beneficial use’ as ‘one and indivisible’ and that ‘rivers and aquifers cut across state boundaries’. This attitude may also be latent in all other macro management proposals of that envisage inter basin transfer and regulation of inter-state rivers (articles 3.2, 3.4, 4.2 & 21.1).

Most of the document is devoted to the engineering of water. Here engineering should mean harnessing, controls and manipulation. In fact the three factors mentioned can also be attributed to the root cause of major water crisis in the country. The constructive ingredients – one may like to call them dams or irrigation systems – have emerged as the core theme. The attitude of the NWP-2002 in this respect is no different from the one formulated in 1987.

Inter basin transfer presupposes that one water basin has surplus water resources to feed another water basin. This often is built on assumptions rather than proven data on specific cases and it (inter basin transfer) often emerges as major source of exploitation. The so called water deficient basin may also be a politically stronger area to demand more than its natural share of water than the other that may be politically mute, ignorant or short-sighted.

NWP2002 does not have corresponding supportive policies for the views contained in Article 15. There are options to link the aspects of water availability with agro-climatic regions. These are well recognised – by further spelling out the limitations of certain perpetually dry (arid and semi-arid) geographical regions making choices of cultivating water intensive crops or creating urban or industrial centres with water demand higher than its natural share.

Watershed approach (Article 17.6) has been viewed as a comprehensive soil-conservation, catchment area treatment, forest protection measure and not as a balanced micro-level water management module. To a greater degree, by presenting watershed approach as an appendix to flood control measure the NWP-2002 has killed the cause of watershed approach, much of which is already diluted by its populist implementations.

The limitations of water resources have to be viewed from the micro level and one has to live with the reality that water deficiency cannot be met with the application of technology that can flood a highland and convert the deserts green.

There may be a policy shift that all future growth in Industry and Urban development and changes in cropping patterns must adhere to limitations set out by the water resources. Emperor Akbar had created Fatepur Sikri as his new capital that did not last, the newly built palaces and forts were not razed by natural disasters or by enemy attacks, they simply had to be abandoned as there was not enough water around the place.

Dilip Fouzdar (C-489, Sarita Vihar, NEW DELHI-110044,

(Comment prepared for the Update)


SOME EXPERT VOICES ON NWP2002

It is a victory for the IMF, the World Bank and the multinational corporations, which want to trade on water.

Rajendra Singh, Tarun Bharat Sangh (THE HINDU 090402)

Even after years of colossal financial failures of centralized water management, our policy makers seem to find it extremely difficult to accept that decentralised water management systems must be an inalienable part of a national water policy… But then what do you expect from the in-the-box-thinking of our water establishment? Particularly when the box has been sealed airtight for so long that that it gets no oxygen and certainly everything inside is long dead and rotten.

Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment

(THE TIMES OF INDIA 0504002, BUSINESS STANDARD 160402)

Little is done to discourage farmers from growing water hungry crops like sugarcane in relatively arid areas of Maharashtra.

Edit (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 050402)

The new policy was drafted in 1998 and the final document was to be the product of a detailed national consultative process. I was part of the consultation initiated by CAPART... Others who were part of this National Consultative Committee on Water included Anna Hazare, Achyut Das, Vandana Shiva and Rajendra Singh. Senior officials of the Planning Commission and all Ministries concerned attended meetings of this Committee. It is a sad commentary on the state of Indian democracy that not one of the final written recommendations made by this Committee finds a place in the new water policy.

Mihir Shah (THE HINDU 070602)


The World Bank’s Water Resources Sector Strategy and Delhi Consultation On May 20, the World Bank held its Delhi consultation on its proposed Water Resources Sector Strategy. SANDRP was invited at the meeting and some of the comments made by SANDRP at the meeting and subsequently submitted to the Bank, specifically about the India section in the WRSS are given below. The fact that the Bank expressed its inability to invite some of the most well known people’s movements and organisations for the consultation says a lot about the “consultation”.

Comments on “What the new Sector Strategy might mean in India in general and the state of Andhra Pradesh in particular” (pp.55-60)

by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People

(These comments form part of a forthcoming critique of the WRSS by SANDRP)

The India section does not give an accurate account of the successes and failures of what the World Bank has been doing, and is at present doing in India. Because it gives a false impression of the Bank's work in India, the contents of the section and its conclusions are by necessity quite misleading.

* Para 167: While it is true that Water Resources Development has linkages with poverty levels, this does not mean that the large irrigation projects are best methods of reducing poverty. In fact, evidence shows that local systems are far superior at reducing poverty: unlike large projects, local systems do not generate any poverty, and they have much lower social, environmental, economic and opportunity costs. 70% of the population is dependent on agriculture, most of them on rainfed agriculture. Any water resources-related activity that helps the maximum number of the poorest of rural people would have the greatest impact on poverty and the cost of not doing local systems in terms of impact on poverty is much larger than cost of not doing large systems. Today, India, produces about 210 MT of foodgrains, but a very big proportion of poor people still do not have purchasing power to buy the food. Uneconomic and wasteful storage of over 60 MT of foodgrains at the same time leads compelling loss-making and highly subsidised export of foodgrains. One activity that can surely change this picture is local water development and management systems.

* Para 168: The World Bank became a key lender to Indian water sector only after the early 1970s, leading to the construction of many big dams, most of them unaccountable, uneconomic, destructive projects giving unsustainable and inequitable benefits at best. Today, about 80% of India's water resources budget goes for large dams and the World Bank surely shares responsibility for these warped priorities, taking away the precious resources and development opportunities for the people in drought-prone and flood-affected areas. Any activity by the Bank that fails to correct this anomaly and instead puts further resources into large projects would not be helpful in poverty alleviation in India.

* Para 169: “Efforts to promote reform, however, often had little result.” This last sentence of para 169 captures the essence of World Bank experience in India. Eight years ago Orissa was a model state for the World Bank with India's first state water resources consolidation and power sector restructuring projects being implemented there. Today these World Bank projects are so disastrous that the name Orissa seems to have become unmentionable. Nowhere in the WRSS is OWRCP mentioned. While the Bank has accepted the major challenge is in attention to the environment, managing scarce resources in an efficient and accountable manner etc, there is little reflection of this in the Bank's activities in India. At the same time the WRSS shows the Bank is ready to support yet more large projects. The case of hydropower development illustrates this. In this para the Bank says there is opportunity for development here, but it is well known that existing hydropower stations are not performing most efficiently, and there is huge scope in improving their performance and addressing the large unresolved social and environmental problems caused by these projects, many of them supported by the Bank. Moreover, the Bank's bias for large projects and its equation that development means large projects (one can see attempt to see this correlation in WRSS) is once again apparent. We do not find the Bank saying that there are many options for development for water resources and energy, and that least-cost and appropriate options should be adopted in a participatory way. In the entire WRSS, there is little mention of local water options, groundwater recharging, demand side management and watershed development as an option in water resources development, nor is there mention of drought-prone areas and flood-affected regions, both of which are large in India.

* Para 173: (Note the lack of any mention of Orissa, Haryana or Tamil Nadu, where the Bank has implemented Water Resources Consolidation projects over the last 7-8 years). The claim that in Andhra Pradesh, “This ambitious experiment has proved to be successful . . . water distribution and overall productivity improved . . .” are rather early and too self-congratulatory in the absence of credible figures. Other feedback on the Andhra Pradesh experience raises questions about the sustainability of the institutional reform, and whether there has been real benefits from the program so far.

* Para 174. The Bank forgot to mention here that it has a Haryana Water Resources Consolidation Project. If Haryana farmers are so unhappy with their irrigation systems, does this not suggest that the Bank's Haryana WRCP has been largely a failure?

* Para 176: The mention of an “integrated river basin approach” as central in India's National Water Policy only shows how shallow and superficial the Bank's standards are. It is well known to any objective observer that there is little happening in terms of a river basin approach in India. The same is true for most states and their water policies.

* Para 179: The World Bank's hope of supporting private hydropower in India, particularly when the most well-known experience in this regard has been such a disaster (the Maheshwar HEP), shows the Bank is essentially interested in imposing what it considers good for the private sector and neither consulting nor keeping the interests of poor people in mind.

* Para 180: the discussion here only goes to show once again that the option of going in for local water systems in Godavari basin or the drought-affected portions of Krishna basin does not even figure in World Bank thinking. If the large projects option is exhausted, immediate option looked at by the Bank is long distance, inter-basin transfer of water. Moreover, there is no attempt to understand the experience of lift irrigation systems either. Nor is there any effort to get people's views on available options.

* Para 181: The Bank here does not even mention the basin-wide approaches. Thus if Krishna basin is the issue, the people of the other states of the Krishna basin, namely Karnataka and Maharashtra, need to be involved, and it should be decided in a participatory way what kind of development will thus come about when the river basin approach is applied with the Dublin subsidiarity principle. Nor is there any mention of the need to assess the appropriateness of existing cropping patterns.

* Para 182: It is questionable whether the Bank should be talking about the appropriate incentive system for political leaders. Secondly, the strategy of picking up the lowest hanging fruit first may not apply in irrigation sector. The jury is still out on whether the sequence of reforms selected by the Bank in AP is indeed the best available or even an effective option.

Access to clean water a basic human right According to an ICSSR-IDPAD research project on groundwater availability in India, the states having higher levels of groundwater development show lower level of poverty. Punjab, which is having only 6.16 % of its people under the poverty line, utilises 98.34 % of its groundwater resources. Similarly, in Haryana only 8.74 % of the people are below poverty line and it utilises about 75.61 % of its groundwater resources. On the other hand, in Orissa and Bihar where the proportion of people below the poverty line is more than 40 %, the utilisation of the groundwater is at about 15.22 % and 35.99 %. As per World Bank standards, 525 M people in India are below the poverty line. NWP2002 has not given adequate attention to the linkages between safe drinking water, sanitation and health. (THE TIMES OF INDIA-D 160402)

SSP lobby decides nation’s water resource secretary In a surprise U-turn and gross violation of the govt.’s own policy on extension of service to officials, the Centre has decided to grant a year’s extended tenure to Union water resources secretary B N Navlawala. In a neat maneuver, the Centre has decided to continue Navlawala’s appointment on contract basis by creating the post of adviser. And what in official circles is being described as unprecedented and extraordinary step, the adviser has been given full additional charge of the secretary’s post. According to highly placed sources, Navlawala’s unusual continuation has come about thanks to his Gujarat politicians led by Chief Minister. Hailing from Gujarat, Navlawala has been pitching for the controversial SSP. Sources said he had even tried to schedule a meeting of the NCA on April 29 to decide raising SSP dam height to 100 m. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 300402)

SILIGURI MEETING ON DAMS AND DEVELOPMENT

At a well-attended meeting On Dams and Development in North Bengal and North East on April 20-21 at Siliguri, a unanimous resolution was passed supporting the implementation of the Report of the World Commission on Dams. The two-day meeting was jointly organised by NESPON and SANDRP. The resolution also raised many questions on the proposed Teesta Low Dams Stage III and IV to built on Teesta river near Siliguri and demanded that until the questions raised are answered to the satisfaction of all, particularly the local people, the projects should not go ahead. Organisations and individuals from W Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Maharashtra attended the meeting.

Chief Engineer of NHPC in-charge of these projects also attended the meeting and was unable to answer most of the questions raised at the meeting. Many questions were also raised about the Environment Impact Assessment being undertaken for NHPC by the North Bengal University.


DAMS

Can Bhakra dam please give some drinking water to nearby villages?Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister has demanded water for drinking and irrigation needs of nearby villages from various completed dams such as Bhakra, Pong and the Beas - Sutlej link. (TRIBUNE 020402)

Opposition to Pagladia damThe people of Bodoland have formed a committee to unite against construction of the Multi-purpose Pagaldia Project on the Pagladia river, Bodoland MP S  K Bwiswmuthiary said. The 23-km-long and 26.20-m-high MPBP has already started bringing misery to the people of the region. Thousands of people from 33 adjoining villages will be uprooted from their ancestral homes. Ironically, the MPBP will provide benefits to only 37 villages in the southern part of the NH 31. The ‘Pagladia Bandh Prakalpar Khatigrasta Alekar Sangram Sammittee’ has submitted an alternative proposal to the Planning Commission. A memorandum has also been submitted to Prime Minister and Water Resources Minister requesting them to scrap this "inhuman and hostile" dam project. (SENTINEL 080402)

KANHAR DAM: Saga of InjusticeResumption of work on 40 m high dam on river Kanhar, a tributary of river Son, has provoked opposition from the local people for numerous social, environmental and economic reasons. After completion it will submerge an area of 3000 Ha. It is expected to irrigate 25 772 Ha of land in district Sonbhadra and 8 000 Ha in adjoining districts of Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. The dam is evicting more than 7 500 families from 25 villages from their ancestral land and homes to make way for a reservoir with a storage capacity of 0.262 M acre-feet. The project got approval in Sept. 1976 from CWC with an initial cost of Rs 277.5 M.  It was technically approved in 1979 with a revised estimate of Rs. 558 M. Inter-state dispute between M.P, Bihar and U.P on submergence land was overlooked by CWC, finally sanctioning a revised estimated cost of Rs 694.7 M.  Dept. of Environment of all three states were ignored completely and also no proper survey was made which concealed and overlooked the real picture of the miserable and pathetic condition of tribals. The project is depriving basic rights of affected villagers and tribals. Preliminary figures estimate 900,000 trees, 2500 kuccha and 200 pucca houses, 500 wells and about 30 govt. schools along with some other buildings shall be doomed under water. People have demanded Resettlement policies on the lines of R&R in Sardar Sarovar Project. (From- Bhumi Haqdari Morcha Sonbhadra, UP, April 2002)

Fear of seismic impacts of Mullaiperiyar Kerala govt. has urged the Supreme Court that a detailed study should be conducted by credible team on the seismic impacts before deciding raising of Mullaiperiyar dam from 136 ft to 142 ft. (THE HINDU 090402)

Panel on Tehri rehabilitation The Uttaranchal Chief Minister has asked the Centre to release a special financial package of Rs 400 M for the rehabilitation of the people displaced by the controversial 1000 MW Tehri-I HEP. He has also constituted a high-powered Coordination Committee headed by the Irrigation Minister, to expedite the rehabilitation. He has asked the committee to ensure safety of the life and property of all those who will be affected by the increase in the reservoir waters during the coming monsoons. The problems of the PAFs, including 5 000 persons (1 100 families) still staying in Tehri town should be sorted out amicably and they be shifted to suitable places immediately. The new congress govt. has expressed dissatisfaction with the rehabilitation plans and wants to have a new package. (THE HINDU 120302, 080402 & INDIAN EXPRESS 110402)

Safety of Tehri Dam still an open question The Tehri Project has been challenged on geological, seismological, technical, economic, environment and social grounds. Critics say, "The project is being implemented for providing water and power to Delhi and other areas. The development of the local population is not in the mind of the planners and govt." (DAILY EXCELSIOR 070402)

R & R in UKP is not complete The ongoing Upper Krishna Project involves submergence of 201 villages, including part of Bagalkot town. According to the commissioner Rehabilitation and Land Acquisition all the 41 villages near Narayanapur dam and 65 in Almatti had been shifted. Another 35 villages would be shifted this year and the remaining as and when required. The R&R work of phase II of UKP first stage had come in for severe criticism by the WB in the early 90s. The WB, which approved a loan component for the programme in 1989, had stopped it midway. The WB funding concluded in 1997. (THE TIMES OF INDIA-Bangalore 250402)

Koyna dam: drinking water first priority The Maharashtra Energy Minister said that the first priority in utilising water from the Koyna dam would be to meet drinking water needs in the Satara and Sangli regions. Only then will the remaining water be used for irrigation, while ensuring that the Koyna hydro project is not adversely affected. (BUSINESS STANDARD 12/03/02)

NEWS FROM THE NARMADA VALLEY

IPT demands Halt to the Maan Dam construction A three member tribunal consisting of former judge of Bombay High Court G G Loney, Human Rights advocate Vinod Shetty and Delhi University Sociologist Dr Nandini Sundar; was appointed by the Indian People’s Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights to investigate the situation of the people affected due to the Maan irrigation project, in view of the impending submergence in June 2002. The Maan dam is located at Jeerabad, in Dhar district in MP on the river Maan (a tributary of the Narmada River). The maximum height of the dam is 52.4 M and according to official estimates, it will submerge 17 villages. According to the govt. gazette notification of 29 December 2001, submergence will be complete by June 2002. A public hearing was held at village Khedi Balwari on 17th March, which was attended by about 600 people from all the affected villages. According to the findings the situation in the villages is in urgent need of redressal. The families of 17 villages are under immediate threat of losing their livelihood unless alternative land for cultivation and housing plots are urgently provided before submergence. Submergence should be postponed till the oustees are properly resettled and rehabilitated. We find it shocking that the resettlement of oustees is not an integral part of the construction of the dam and that even after 17 years of construction; their situation has been ignored. We also find that the concerned govt. officers are not addressing the genuine grievances of the people. We call upon the Govt. of MP to take immediate cognizance of the genuine grievances of the affected families in all the 17 villages and adhere to the Rehabilitation policy of the MP govt. for the oustees of Narmada projects. Since it is not possible for the Govt. to immediately complete the R&R before the monsoon of 2002, the dam construction should be halted urgently until such time as R&R is complete. (NBA PR 18/03/02, THE HINDU 26/03/02)

Maan Affected Demand Just Resettlement The MP Govt. has declared Rs 120 M new financial package for Maan Dam oustees. The oustees marched in Dhar demanding agricultural land rather than cash compensation for rehabilitation and said that the package is inadequate. They demanded that the oustees must be rehabilitated as a community on large chunks of fertile and irrigated agricultural land and provided with all community facilities. The rehabilitation policy for the oustees of the Narmada Projects that apply to the people affected by the Maan Project stipulates that the oustee must regain if not improve on his/her standard of living in the new site. Section 3.2 of the policy states that all those losing more than 25 % of their lands will be entitled to a minimum of 2 Ha of agricultural land and that the responsibility of providing irrigation belongs to the state. This will have to be read along with section 5.4 of the Rehabilitation policy that a grant will be given to meet the difference between the compensation amount and the amount required for the purchase of equal land in a new place, and that for members of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, this grant will equal the full difference. Section 10.1 states those rehabilitation sites with minimum facilities of electricity, drinking water, school, etc. would be provided to the oustees. It may be noted that although submergence and filling of the reservoir is only two months away, even rehabilitation sites for the majority of the affected people are yet to be developed. The affected people insisted that the govt. must immediately take cognizance of these issues and include all people who are adults at the time of submergence on 30 June 2002, as was done in the Bargi dam. (NBA PR 160402)

LATEST: INDEFINITE FAST LAUNCHED BY AFFECTED PEOPLE AND ACTIVISTS

As we edit this issue, the indefinite fast by four activists have entered 27th day, demanding just R&R of the Maan affected people as per Madhya Pradesh R&R policy. It is ironic that Maan is one of the smallest of large dams being built in Narmada Valley and agitation is not against the project, but for rehabilitation of some 5000 tribal people, and yet the state govt. is unable to achieve satisfactory R&R and people have had to resort to such extreme measures. That too in a state where Digvijay Singh is Chief Minister, proving more and more to be good CM only on paper as Arundhati Roy noted in her reply to the CM.

Financial Mismanagement in Sardar SarovarAccording to a report of Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. had incurred expenditure of Rs 109.786 B as of March 31, 2001, out of which, Rs 24.14 B, or 22 %, was towards interest charges and servicing debt liability. The CAG report said: "the SSP was approved without outlining the sources of raising of funds and cost element towards borrowings. The company borrowed in an ad-hoc manner and cash flow was not worked out accurately... There was no rationale for forming a separate company to execute the project." Due to huge outstanding of Rs 5.0237 B as on March 31, 2001, from all the beneficiary states, SSNNL had to resort to borrowings from other sources at 12 - 18 % interest. This has resulted in an avoidable loss of interest of Rs 12.098 B as of FY01 end. There remained an aggregate amount of Rs 13.813 B as of FY01 end with Gujarat Govt. Though this money was earmarked for SSNNL, the state govt. did not permit SSNNL to use it. So, SSNNL had to borrow funds to the extent of balance in PLA and had to pay a huge interest of Rs 2.208 B from 1988-89 to 2000-01. Due to non-reservation of right to redeem the bonds through a call option, SSNNL would suffer an avoidable loss of Rs 30.335 B by way of interest on redemption of these bonds on their maturity. Against the anticipated revenue from sale of water and power of Rs 220 M per annum from 1995-96, no revenue was generated till date. (THE TIMES OF INDIA-A 070402)

SSP affected on Dharna in Bhopal The people affected by Sardar Sarovar Project sat on a dharna at the NVDA headquarter in Bhopal. NBA issued an ultimatum to the NVDA authorities saying that they should call for all records. They alleged that the MP government had produced fake records to push the SSP dam height from 90 m to 95 m before the monsoon. NBA called off dharna after meeting with Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and receiving an assurance that the demand would be taken up for consideration by the Cabinet sub-committee. The NBA alleged massive irregularities in the rehabilitation of villagers from the areas that would get submerged by SSP at the height of 90 m.  The NBA wants that a task force on the lines of Maharashtra should be formed and entrusted with the job of checking the actual status of the rehabilitation in the villages. (THE HINDU-D 230402, 290402, THE TRIBUNE 230402)

SSP Costs The cost estimate of SSP stood at Rs 260 B two years ago, of which Rs 120.98 B has been spent till Dec. 01. It has been the practice at SSNNL for some time now to utilise the market borrowings for capital cost as a good portion of the budget allocation goes towards repaying the market borrowings. Average annual budgetary allocation for SSNNL is around Rs 9 B. The latest private placement (with public sector banks, insurance companies, state coop banks and PSUs) has been underway and has so far collected Rs 3.5 B. (BUSINESS LINE 170402)

LATEST: SC ISSUES NOTICE ON DECISION TO RAISE SSP HEIGHT

The Supreme Court of India has issued notices to affected states, Narmada Control Authority and the Union Govt. to explain what steps they have taken to rehabilitate as per NWDT award and Supreme Court orders the people to be affected in SSP submergence area due to raising of height of the dam from 90 m to 95 m. This was in response to a fresh petition filed in NBA. The bench hearing the petition has referred the case to another vacation bench as the first two judge bench could not arrive at common perception of the situation.

Displaced Tribals get no benefits from Tawa Tawa dam built on Narmada river in Hoshangabad district in MP has displaced tribals from 44 villages but no benefit of the project has gone to them. Many of them stay within 1-6 km of the Tawa Canals. Tribals have now demanded benefits from the scheme and said they would agitate if this does not happen. (Sarvodaya Press Service 010302)

NSP gets Cabinet nod The cabinet on March 19 accorded clearance to the controversial Indira Sagar power project in MP after almost two years of construction having started. The project was earlier referred to CCEA, which twice refused to take a decision and wanted the matter to be taken up by the full cabinet. Even the full cabinet deferred the decision at least twice before finally giving a clearance just in time to save Rs 4.6 B allocated to the project from getting lapsed. The project is to cost Rs 43.55 B and expected to be completed by May 2005.

HYDRO PROJECTS

Ministry Of Power’s Façade of R&R ‘Consultation’ On May 14, 2002, Ministry of Power called a meeting on R&R in power sector that looked more like a meeting of rehabilitation of power sector mandarins. SANDRP was invited for the meeting, but had to walk out from the meeting. The following letter to the Union Power Minister written  the next day and the attached note that was given to Power Ministry officials are self explanatory. Protests letters are understood to have been written by a number other organisations including Narmada Bachao Andolan, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra and Matu.

To: Shri Suresh Prabhu

Union Minister for Power

Dear Sir,

This is to explain to you the circumstances under which I walked out of the one meeting on “R & R in Power Projects” in protest yesterday at the end of Technical Session One. I had informed Joint Secy Mr. Anil Razdan that I am walking out in protest and had requested him to circulate the attached note to the participants of the meeting including you. I am attaching that note with this letter in case he has not given you a copy so far.

I had rather reluctantly agreed to come for the meeting. The reluctance was due to the fact that none of the important people or organisations that have been doing some real work with and for the affected people since many years had not received invitation for the meeting till 13th May 02 morning, till when I was in touch with them. I have mentioned some of the names in the first point of the attached note. I myself received the invitation very belatedly, only on the 10th May, without any agenda, schedule, names of speakers or any material that would reflect the state of thinking in the ministry on the subject. After receiving opinions of a number of colleagues and most importantly, thinking that may be the meeting would lead to some progress for the people affected by large dams, some of the most condemned people of the country, I decided to go for the meeting. I also thought that may be the ministry should be given a benefit of doubt and may be they had invited some affected people or their organisations that I have not contacted or I do not know of. How wrong that thinking was!

On seeing you, minister of state for power, power secretary, CEA chairman and joint secy on the pedestal in the first session, on hearing these dignitaries, one was starkly disappointed. On seeing CMD NHPC, CMD THDC, principle secretary MP and senior Sardar Sarovar official from Gujarat as scheduled speakers in the first technical session on R&R for hydro projects chaired by CEA chairman (only other sessions in the meeting were for thermal and transmission projects), I started wondering if I have come to the right place or was the meeting about R&R of CMDs and power ministry mandarins? Not one affected person, not one affected people’s organisations and not one non governmental organisation or person among scores of people working on these issues for decades, surely known to you and your ministry (if not otherwise known, at least through our correspondence a few weeks earlier) and you have not bothered to assure participation of any of these? About the content of what was spoken at the meeting, less said the better.

This kind of meeting on R&R would be unacceptable to any right thinking person. My continued participation may provide some legitimacy to a meeting when none is due, I thought. I then informed Mr Razdan about this decision and walked away.

In the twenty first century, when you all do not tire of talking about participatory governance and sustainable development, this kind of event is difficult to imagine. If you were really interested in doing something worthwhile on this issue, the attached note would provide some directions, I hope.

Thanking you for your attention and best wishes,

Himanshu Thakkar

Brief Note on

Resettlement and Rehabilitation

in the context of Power Projects

For a One Day Meeting in New Delhi on May 14, 2002

Called by Ministry of Power

1. Firstly, I must thank Union Power Minister for calling me for this meeting. This was a pleasant surprise, at first glance, it seemed. Then I checked with the people and organisations working on these issues with affected people for very long time (e.g. Shri L C Jain, former member of Planning Commission, Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Chittarupa Palit and Alok Agarwal, also of NBA, working with Maheshwar and Mann affected people, Shripad Dharmadhikary a senior activist of NBA also involved in the process of World Commission on Dams, which has come out with the most remarkable of report of displacement and rehabilitation, Shekhar Singh of Indian Institute of Public Administration, involved in these issues for years and also associated with Union Environment Ministry and Planning Commission for many years and whose book on social impacts of large dams have just been published, Ashish Kothary of Kalpavriksha, Girish Sant of Prayas, Vimal Bhai involved with Tehri issues, Prashant Bhushan, a Senior Supreme Court advocate, Ravi Hemadri working with Bisalpur affected people in Rajsathan, to name just a few of the important, well known people and organisations involved in these issues for a long time and known to power ministry through our earlier correspondence) and I was shocked to learn that possibly none of them were invited.

The amiability thus was quickly replaced by suspicion as to what can be the purpose of a meeting where the most important groups were missing. The first point I would like to make is that no such consultation can be worthwhile if the affected people and the groups working with them are not part of the process.

2. The second aberration that caught my eye was that invitation came at such a short notice and without any background note or papers. Now this is not even mildly shocking because R&R is not a new subject we are confronted with. And unless we take stock of what we have achieved over the years, and try and learn lessons from there, there is little hope from such consultations. Indian experience in displacing and NOT resettling its people is possibly most notorious in the world. To date, though Govt of India has yet to come up with any study or figures of people displaced by large dams, here is what the Mid-Term Appraisal of India’s Ninth Five Year Plan (Oct. 2000) said on the subject:

"Systematic irrigation development and construction of big dams in the country have caused land to be submerged and led to large scale displacement of people from their original habitat. Almost half of the displaced persons are tribals who have least resources, experience and temperament to negotiate their lives after displacement. Due to the submergence the project affected persons (PAPs) face numerous problems… There are no reliable statistics with break-up of social and economic classification of the people displaced by each of large projects since independence. Many researchers place their estimates at between 10 million and 25 million. The implementation of R&R programmes for the Project Affected Families (PAF) has thrown up the following important issues, which need consideration.

Prior Consultation and information to Project Affected Persons

Need for National Rehabilitation Policy

Provision for land from Command area to those who bore land in the catchment area

Availability of basic infrastructural facilities like health, education etc at relocation sites.

Policies to take into account specific problems of most vulnerable sections of the displaced including tribals."

“The Central Government is in the process of formulating new national R&R policy. The draft NRR 1998 was prepared and widely debated by the Government. The R&R policy will seek to minimise the trauma of displacement on account of compulsory acquisition of land, and establish statutory minimum standards for packages and benefits to ensure that displaced persons are better off as a result of the project".

A clear admission, thus that Govt., over 54 years after independence and after pauperising millions have neither any record of displacement or rehabilitation nor any policy on resettlement or rehabilitation.

3. From generality to specifics Even today, the people affected by Bhakra, Damodar and Hirakud projects are yet to be fully resettled, even by the admission of local governments, not just independent reports. Not a month goes by without Himachal Pradesh CM making some announcement about the pending resettlement of those affected by Bhakra and Pong dam oustees.

The point we would like to draw from this is that unless we know what we have done in the past, there is little one can hope from such meetings.

4. Decision making process Without prejudice to what I have said thus far, let me come to the issue of R&R policy. The first important issue we would like to point out is that the issue of social impacts including displacement, resettlement and rehabilitation should form integral part of the planning and decision making, which unfortunately, is not the case. The Planning Commission Document (Oct. 2000) mentioned above said on this issue: “The process of decision making on these projects also needs to be made more open so that the public at large, and in particular, those directly affected can have access to more information about the assumptions and calculations on which the project is judged by the authorities to be technically and economically viable. This will help the people satisfy themselves that sufficient safeguards have been built into the project to take reasonable care of those who are affected by the projects and also of the potential adverse ecological consequences flowing from the construction of the project and its operation. The people will also get an opportunity to place their objections and concerns before the concerned authorities along with concrete suggestions for alternative, cheaper/safer ways of achieving objectives which the project is supposed to serve”.

To remind, this is a quote from Govt. of India’s Planning Commission.

And it implies that BEFORE a decision is taken to go ahead with the project, people, including affected people, should get an opportunity to look at the project documents to not only look at social and environmental aspects, but also the technical and economic viability aspects, so that people can make, to repeat part of the quote, “concrete suggestions for alternative, cheaper/safer ways of achieving objectives which the project is supposed to serve.”

Here a process related issue is that this process cannot be entrusted with the project implementing authority or ministry and there should be an independent authority that would certify that the project has gone through this process. In case of power projects, we can either have an independent authority for this or the electricity regulatory commissions can be entrusted with this task.

5. Appraisal Problems One major issue we would like to flag is that of serious inadequacy in basic appraisal of social and environmental impacts of power projects. To give you a few examples, in Chamera I Project implemented by NHPC, an organisation under Power Ministry, the people had to actually flee when reservoir was getting filled, as per a field study done by SANDRP. In case of Bargi Project in Narmada Valley in Madhya Pradesh, which is essentially working as hydro project now, the projected submergence was for 101 villages, but when reservoir was filled up, it submerged 162 villages, including some of what the authorities chose to call resettlement sites. In case of the proposed Teesta Low Dams III and IV projects in North Bengal being undertaken by NHPC, the affected people were not even informed the purpose of the socio-economic survey being conducted for the project.

If the projects undertaken by Power Ministry are not to become engines of pauperisation of most marginalized sections of population, then the projects must have full, proper, open, transparent and accountable appraisal. If an engineer who says 101 villages will be affected and the project submerges 162 villages and yet the engineer, planner, bureaucrat, politician or any other decision maker gets away without being answerable, then we cannot continue to believe that we are living in a civilised society.

One major issue we would like to flag here is that all kinds of people who get affected by the project, whether in the upstream, in the submergence zone, in the downstream, or in the command or benefit areas, must be part of project appraisal and definition of project affected.

6. First Principle of R&R Policy Having seen that the story of displacement, resettlement and rehabilitation shows utter failure of authorities to achieve any semblance of resettlement, leave aside the question of rehabilitation, then the first principle of any R&R policy should be avoidance, minimisation, prior resettlement. That is, first attempt must be to look for projects that avoids any displacement, and such options do exist, if we were to go even by the statements of India’s Power Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu.

When avoiding displacement is not possible, then the option chosen must have minimum social impacts. And it should be shown that indeed the option selected is a least cost option, in a publicly demonstrable way. Accompanied by such choice should be a demonstration, again in a public way that full arrangements for resettlement of the affected population is in place, including land availability. And this should be shown before taking up the project. No investment or any other clearance should be given to the project before this is shown to be the case.

The process of showing that this is indeed the case cannot be left to the project-implementing agency. In the earlier case I had suggested that possibly ERC can be involved, but since ERC or CEA does not have capabilities in social issues, we would probably need a new independent body to assure that this process is properly followed.

7. Land for Land Policy About the actual measures of R&R, the most important issue we would like to high light is that every affected family must be given a choice of getting minimum Two Ha of irrigated land with every major daughter or son on the date of section 4 notice being considered separate family. If any affected family chooses not to take land and go for any alternative R&R measure, that option can be exercised by such failies at a later date, but the authorities in the first place must offer land as mentioned above. No excuses in this respect should be entertained.

Even Govt. of India has agreed in affidavit after affidavit in the Supreme Court that Land based resettlement is the only just and proper way of resettling affected people.

One major excuse put forward in this respect is that there is no land available for resettlement. Past experience has shown that when there is political will, the authorities have been able to provide land. To give a famous example, in case of Sardar Sarovar Project, Govt. was not interested in giving land for resettlement, but it was forced under various circumstances, to agree to give 2 Ha of irrigated land to each affected family, including those landless in the affected villages. There too, the authorities had raised the bogey of availability of land, which they continue to raise even till date, showing utter lack of minimum goodwill towards affected people. However, till date, the govt. has allocated over 16000 Ha of land to affected people. This is not to say that proper R&R is happening in case of SSP. The point to note is that the authorities that were saying there is no land have been forced to find so much land for affected people.

To give a more forceful argument, just four days back, on May 10, at a meeting on National Water Policy, Member Planning Commission (Water Resources) and former Minister for Water Resources and Agriculture, Shri Som Pal, nailing the bogey of no land available, said that as per Planning Commission figures, 77 M Ha of land is available that can be put to use either for agriculture or for forestry. No excuse about no land availability can be entertained after getting this from India’s current Planning Commission.

8. Social Rehabilitation One major issue about the R&R measures we would like to draw here is that of social rehabilitation. The affected villages must get a choice of getting resettled as a village unit. It is another matter if some members of the village choose not to exercise that option. But the authorities must be obligated to give that choice to affected people.

9. Institutional Issues Besides some of the institutional issues flagged earlier, here I would like to briefly flag two issues. First is the issue of Monitoring. The project implementing authorities cannot be entrusted with the task of certifying that R&R is actually happening as per the policies, provisions and plans. There should be an independent, credible agency appointed for each project to firstly monitor and periodically provide public reports about the state of R&R. Secondly, there should be a committee which would certify about the progress of R&R and based on that, approve construction of the project at each stage. That committee must have representatives from affected people, NGOs and such other credible persons.

10. Confidence Building Measures Indian policy makers’ credibility, unfortunately, is very low as far as R&R is concerned. If the claim that proper R&R is possible is shown to have any credibility, the authorities will first have to show that such is indeed the case. And this can obviously not be at the expense of additional displacement. Any confidence inspiring case must come from resettlement and rehabilitation of people affected by projects in the past. Until it is seen and shown that people displaced in the past are indeed properly resettled, there cannot be any case for fresh displacement and until then people will have no confidence in authorities’ claims that R&R is possible.

11. Just and Sustainable Development Dam builders, including govts and other authorities are in the habit of calling all those who raise some basic questions on social justifiability and viability of development projects as anti developmental. We hope our Power Minister would not fall in that trap. For, causing displacement is not the only way of achieving development. Moreover, it is nobody’s case that no development is necessary. However, as we move towards Johannesburg and Rio + 10, we can not loose consciousness that any project that in stead of reducing poverty, generates more poor people, can neither be called just, nor sustainable and never a developmental project.

12. Next Steps Full appraisal and addressing of past social impacts, putting together a transparent options assessment process, legally enforceable R&R policies, institutional mechanisms mentioned above and holding all displacement related projects on hold till than are some of the basic next steps that one can think that the Power Ministry can take up, in consultation with the people mentioned in first point above and all such other people. The God, in this case, is not in detail, as some would say, but possibly in compliance, the weakest point of our God fearing society. The existence of yawning gap between our words and deeds cannot inspire any confidence.

South Asia Network On Dams, Rivers and People

May 2002

Does the Power Ministry understand Environmental issues? A half page response feature (THE TIMES OF INDIA 180402) by Union Minister of State for Power raises questions if the Power Ministry really understands social and environment issues associated with Hydropower projects. Here is a sample of some misleading and some patently wrong statements:

Information for land required for the project is not given, but only land under submergence is given. This gives a misleading picture as in case of Uri project, while 235 Ha of land was required, extent of submergence given is nil.

There is column in the first table with heading “Plants affected (number)”. How the authorities could have counted the number of affected plants beats imagination.

The feature claims, “Hydroprojects do not cause any substantial soil erosion”, which clearly shows that the author does not understand what all activities are involved in hydropower projects. Would be well advised to read Large Dams in India: Environmental and social impacts by Shekhar Singh and Pranab Bannerji of Indian Institute of Public Administration. The statement in the feature “Activities like construction/ widening of roads, construction of project components etc. may further aggravate deforestation” contradicts the first statement, and goes to show how little the author understands environmental impacts. This second statement quoted here also contradicts another statement coming later on, “The direct impact of run-of-the-river project on flora and fauna is limited to the vicinity of the project”.

From the second table of the feature, it is clear that project authorities are not treating full catchment area of the project, required for its sustained existence. They not even treating full free draining catchment areas, only a small portion of it. In case of Rangit project, about 16% of freely draining catchment is even claimed to be “under treatment” when the project has been commissioned years ago. No wonder the projects silt up so fast.

On R&R, the feature makes most far-fetched and unbelievable claims, “Rehabilitation of Project Affected Persons receives the due importance in NHPC right from the stage of planning… The displaced people are resettled, much in advance of the project commissioning.” Nothing can be farther from truth. In case of Chamera I project in Himachal Pradesh, people had to flee when the reservoir was getting filled as per SANDRP survey.

Teesta Hydel project raises concerns The residents of Kalijhora, Gielle, the Environmentalists of north Bengal and others are irked at the construction of the Teesta ‘low’ dam projects III and IV, to be built by the NHPC, across the glacier-fed Teesta river. Under the project, a total of 184 Ha of forest land including the famous picnic spot of Kalijhora will get submerged. Besides, 2.5 km of NH 31A will have to be realigned. The Chief coordinator of Kalijhora Janakalyan Manch said, “The survey report prepared by the North Bengal University is not done properly as the main residents of the area were not interviewed. The PWD and the NHPC are playing the game to remove us from here.” According to the Indian Meteorological Department, the area falls under seismic zone level IV. The continued accumulation of silt and gravel will erode the hillsides flanking the Teesta. Due to underground water seepage and the rise in water level, Kalijhora village might get submerged and their livelihood and habitat destroyed. (THE TIMES OF INDIA-K 170402)

Sub: Representation RE Teesta Low Dams III and IV

Under Section 29 of Elec Supply Act Notification

A number of organisations including Himalay Paryavaran, SEED, NESPON, Teesta Bachao Andolan and SANDRP sent representations to NHPC in response to notice of NHPC under section 29 of Electricity Supply Act (1948), objecting to the proposed Teesta Low Dam projects near Siliguri in northern W Bengal. Some of the important points in the representations include the following.

1. First point is procedural. NHPC is a project implementing agency and it has already shown to have vested interest in pushing the project. Thus it cannot be entrusted with the task of responding to the representations like this one and an independent agency should be asked to look into and respond in detail to the representations received objecting to the project. Accordingly, we are copying this also to Chairman CEA and Chairman CERC.

2. NHPC has been going ahead with some serious nature of work at the project sites. This is happening, for example at Kalijhora township and upstream of the Coronation bridge in case of Stage IV dam. The Chief Eng of the project accepted that a tunnel, 2.2 mts in diameter and 300 mts depth is being done, though he called this to be testing work. Work of such scale cannot be called testing and would have irreversible and serious geological and other impacts for the region. This only goes to show NHPC has little respect for basic norms.

3. The work described in point 2 above is happening in reserved forest area and also entails creation of roads, lighting and related work. This has already meant felling off a number of trees for which NHPC has no permission.

4. The project is going to submerge part of NH 31A and the alternative path that have been marked out, we were told, goes through reserved forest possibly under Mahananda Sanctuary. As per the Supreme Court order, no authority has permission to divert any land under any sanctuary or national parks. Hence, the project would be violating the Supreme Court orders and unless there is specific permission for this, the project cannot go ahead and all related expenses would be a waste.

5. Teesta Valley has the highest incidence of landslides in the country. The project area is known to have high density of known land slips. There is also the issue of one of the highest siltation rates in Teesta river. Under the circumstances, geological and sediment related feasibility of the project is under doubt.

6. Moreover the projects of this nature would also have serious impacts in upstream regions when large amount of water is permanently stored. These impacts do not seem to have been taken into account while taking up the project and unless this is done, the project would bring unforeseen serious adverse impacts.

7. Teesta valley, like the rest of the Himalayan region, is highly seismically active area and the project would not only pose a threat in case of an earthquake, it would also accelerate the occurrence of earthquakes.

8. The project and the intermittenent nature of flow of water in the downstream region that it would induce would have serious downstream impacts. These will be of many kinds. Geomorphologic impacts would be one of them. Coronation Bridge, just 400 mts downstream of stage IV dam, would be endangered, for example, besides many other impacts in the fragile geology of the region.

9. There are many serious problems with the way environmental impact assessment of the project seems to be getting done. The local people of course have no role in this and they are not even informed about the project, leave aside taking their free prior and informed consent about the project. Even while taking up socio economic assessment, the local people were not informed about what this is being done for. Any EIA done in this manner and any project taken up in this way can have no place in any democratic society and the project in any case violates fundamental rights of the local people.

10. The Teesta Stage IV project is to submerge the picnic spot and eco tourism developed by the local people with their resources. Livelihood of almost all the people of Kalijhora township depends on this. And the project authorities, even after repeated questioning, have no response as to how the local people will be compensated. On the contrary, as local people told us, there is constant attempt to threaten and otherwise take away their existing habitations in various ways. The socio economic impacts of the projects would be serious and there is no attempt to bring into project parameters. The project authorities do not have any R&R policy or plan, least of all credible record or mechanism to make this possible.

11. The projects are supposed to provide peaking energy as per the presentation made by the Chief Eng NHPC at a meeting in Siliguri on 210402. However the proposed projects have no storage capacity and for a project to provide peaking energy, off peak time water storage facility is required. Alternatively the project authorities can choose to shut off the stations during off peak hours, but in that case the project cannot achieve electricity production equivalent to 52% Plant load factor as claimed in the notification of 150302. Hence the notification is clearly giving wrong, misleading information.

12. Moreover, in the notification or otherwise, hydrology of the river at project site is not given or available to people. As you know, feasibility of the project cannot be ascertained without knowing the hydrology of the river at the dam site. Under the circumstances, people are asked to trust the project authorities as far as feasibility of the project is concerned. Past experience of NHPC shows that such trust would be misplaced and in any case such huge amount of public money cannot be invested under trust in a few unaccountable engineers.

13. Hydrological feasibility of the project also comes into doubt as till recently, the installed capacity of stage IV project was said to be 168 MW, which has suddenly been envisaged to be 200 MW now.

14. The project cost (which has always proved to an underestimate as per past experience of such projects) as given in the Section 29 notification, at Rs. 2.98 per unit of electricity produced at bus bar is at Sept. 2001 prices, we assume. When T&D losses prevailing as it does in W Bengal at 40% are included, the cost would go up to Rs. 4.97 per unit. This does not include the investments necessary for related T&D works. Under the circumstances, this is very high priced power. As we all know, the main problem with the ongoing controversy in Dabhol power project, where the station is ready to produce power, is that the power cost is considered too high even at Rs. 3 per unit at present cost. It is difficult to imagine who would be able to pay for the power produced by the proposed projects. In any case, this does not seem to be least cost option.

15. Many dams have come up and more are under construction and planned on Teesta valley and its tributaries. There is no attempt to see the cumulative impact of the project on the society, on ecology, geology, hydrology, downstream areas and in holistic way. Unless this is done, and projects are still proved to be useful, the proposed projects should not go ahead.

Looking at all the above points, we clearly see that the project should not ahead in the present form unless all the points raised above are addressed in a manner satisfactory to everyone concerned, local people most importantly.

NHPC to exit from Koel Karo

The NHPC has confirmed its desire to exit the project, “We have asked the Power Ministry to either help us get clearance from the state govt. and the Centre or give us permission to wind up the project.” The project was handed over to the NHPC in 1981. Today the estimated cost per unit of power is expected to be between Rs 6 and Rs 7. NHPC’s inability to resolve the issue of rehabilitation of around 100 000 people to be displaced by the project has been one of the main problems. (THE INDIAN EXPRESS-D 010402)

AASU-NHPC controversy The kidnapping of an engineer of NHPC Gerukamukh created a misunderstanding between the All Assam Students' Union and the project officials. AASU called one-day bundh after lodging of false complaint by NHPC and arrest of their Gerukamukh branch president by the local police. Dramatically police released AASU leader after release of the abducted engineer by unknown kidnapper. The controversy started when the NHPC has launched 2000 MW Subasiri HEP project. The AASU leaders expressed their resentment stating that the local people are deprived of employment in the Rs 100 B project. (SENTINEL 020402)

Nathpa Jhakri Financial Bungling The CAG has taken a serious note of the Himachal Pradesh Govt. retaining with itself loans of Rs 12.577 B raised during 1999-2001 for payment of equity in the Nathpa Jhakri Power Corporation. The govt. raised loans of Rs 7.57 B through the HPRIDC during 1999-2001 by securitisation of the receipts of free power from NJPC for about five years from the date of commissioning of the project. The amount was deposited in the govt. account and no equity payment of these loans had been made to the NJPC up to March 2001. The annual return of Rs 3.5 B from free power sale from the NJPC had already been considered sufficient by the govt. to liquidate SLR - borrowings of Rs 8.99 B made by the state govt. earlier through the HPSEB during 1994-2000. Securitisation of the same receipts of free power for raising loans through HPRIDC was thus, not justified.

Corruption Fresh cases of corruption has been reported in this project. The Jai Prakash construction got an ad hoc payment of Rs 420 M as advance against the admissible claims of Rs 0.451 M. The vigilance dept. has pointed out irregularities in a payment of Rs 28 M to Continental Foundation. (THE TRIBUNE 290302, THE HINDU 140402)

Srisailam Project unviable: CAG The Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its latest report has said that the Srisailam project has become unviable on account of a huge escalation in the cost of the project. The 6x150 MW Srisailam HEP was sanctioned in 1986 but the real work started from 1996 after the JBIC had approved direct payments to the equipment suppliers, and sanctioned the required loan. As against Rs 11.666 B sanctioned by the Planning Commission in 1991, the project cost has now escalated to Rs 34.32 B including IDC of Rs. 9.5 B. The project cost has worked out to be Rs 38.1 M per MW. The 3rd unit of the project was commissioned on April 21. (BUSINESS LINE-D 220402, 240402)

Excess Hydro Capacity in Karnataka Karnataka has installed hydro power capacity of 3000 MW, whereas the thermal capacity is about 2000 MW, thus the state has adverse hydro-thermal mix. (Other states can use this to create better hydro thermal mix?)

Malfunctioning at Sheravathi Tail Race Project As the gate of the dam did not shut in time at the World Bank funded 180 MW Gurusoppa HEP, water (which could have yielded electricity worth Rs 1.7 M) leaked away. (BUSINESS LINE 020302, THE HINDU 270402)

Japanese funding to Hydro projects in India Japan continues to remain the largest among the bilateral donors funding hydropower and dam projects in India. Among the projects currently funded by Japan’s ODA include the Paithan HEP in Maharashtra, Purulia Pump Storage Project in W Bengal, Umiam HEP in Meghalaya, Tuirial HEP in Mizoram, Srisailam left Bank HEP in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu State Micro Hydro Power Stations Construction Project. In addition, Japan also funds India Gandhi Canal Area (afforestation and Pasture development), Rajghat Canal Irrigation Project in MP, Rengali irrigation project in Orissa in irrigation sector and several others (e.g. Kerala Water Supply Project, Bangalore Water Supply Project, Yamuna Action Plan) in water sector. (THE HINDUSTAN TIMES 290402)

Sutlej Upper Valley Power Corp. HP CM announced that the Sutlej Upper Valley Power Corp. in the joint sector with NJPC and other central orgs will be set up. The 400 MW Rampur HEP, 225 MW Karchham-Shongton and 400 MW Thpan-Pouwari HEPs could be executed by the Corp. (TRIBUNE 080302)

Larzi Coffer dam breached Sudden rise in the level of Beas river has led to breach in Larzi coffer dam. (TRIBUNE 270402)

CEA Green Signal for Almatti ProjectThe Central Electricity Authority has given its techno-economic clearance for the 290 MW HEP in Karnataka. In line with the Supreme Court order, the CEA had approved the Rs 6.74 B project, to be developed by the KPCL, on the condition that no physical capacity would be created to store water above the 519.6 m level at Almatti Dam. Karnataka had proposed to raise the water reservoir level to 524.2 m from 509 m for increasing power generation, which was opposed by Andhra Pradesh. The Supreme Court settled the issue in April 2000 by restricting the water reservoir level to 519.6 m and by imposing a cap on total water utilization by Karnataka at 173 trillion cubic m per annum. (BUSINESS STANDARD-D 06/03/02)

NorthEast ProjectsUnion Power Minister assured Mizoram that the 80 MW Bairabi HEP would be taken up in the coming Power Minister’s conference and said that he would personally ensure that the project is implemented. “The project would be made a multipurpose project involving different union ministries like Water Resources, Rural Development and Inland Waterways,” he said. He also said that all efforts have been made to begin the works of 210-MW Tuivai Hydel project in the State. He dedicated to the nation the 75 MW Rs 8 B Doyang HEP built by Central sector NEEPCO in Nagaland’s Wokha district.

CEA approves Mizoram HEPThe CEA has accorded techno-economic clearance to the Bairabi HEP. Located on the Bairabi River a 62 M high and 180 M long earth fill dam would be built to generate 210 MU of electricity annually. The dam would, it is claimed, will provide a 180-km waterway for transportation of goods from the capital Aizwal to Silchar. The project is likely to be developed in 7 years and is estimated to cost Rs 5.226 B.  The proposed reservoir would submerge 6 villages with a total population of 6 500. (ASSAM TRIBUNE 030302, 040302 SENTINEL 030302 PIB PR 120302)

Kerala signs pact for rubber dams The Steel Industrials Ltd. of Kerala has signed an agreement with Hydroconstruct of Austria for construction of rubber dams in the country. The SILK sources said that rubber dams as old as 25-30 years are in operation in many countries such as US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Austria, Indonesia, China and the Philippines. They are ideal for total water resource management such as irrigation, groundwater recharging, flood-control and hydropower generation. According to preliminary studies, rubber dams would find wide application in rivers such as Bharathaouza, Periyar and Pampa in Kerala. The total cost of rubber dams will be lower than that of conventional concrete dams. The rubber dams can be shifted around provided the site parameters are similar. They can also be used in catchment areas for generation of power. (BUSINESS LINE-D 040302)

Conditional approval Rs 3.30 B bonds for Maheshwar The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet has given its approval in principle for giving a standby guarantee for Rs 3.30 B convertible bonds being issued by the Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation. For securing the guarantee, the company will have to ascertain all financial arrangements and complete necessary formalities within six months from the date of letter of intent. It will have to renegotiate with the loan providers about the rate of interest and make it at par with the current market rate. The company will have to devise measures to lower the project cost and maximum possible limit of interest during the period of construction. “Though the govt. will make amendment in PPA, there is no written agreement on reducing the power tariff which is expected to touch Rs 5.06 per unit on the completion of project in 2005-06,” Official said.

The NBA has demanded that the project be scrapped, all public money withdrawn, and punitive action taken against all officials. The NBA questioned the State Govt.’s stand saying that the decision to extend guarantee came at a time when orders had been issued to confiscate company’s movable properties. The NBA demonstrated that while the power from the MHP is prohibitively expensive, over 60,000 people would stand to lose their lands, homes and livelihoods because of the project whose rehabilitation is well nigh impossible. The departure of five US and German power utilities from this Project and the refusal of the German and Portuguese govts to stand guarantees have also demonstrated that the Project is socially, technically and financially unviable. (THE HINDU-D 30/03/02 & 07/04/02, BUSINESS STANDARD-D 2/04/02 & NBA PR 05/04/02)

Time and Cost over runs in J&K HEPsThe Minister for Power said that an MoU has been signed between the State Govt. and the Union Ministry of Power under which 7 HEP have been handed over to the NHPC for execution. The Minister said for completion of Upper Sindh Hydel Project-II, Sewa-III and Chenani-III loan assistance has been arranged from PFC while as REC is providing loan for execution of Haftal, Sanjak, Marpachoo, Pahalgam and Bhaderwah projects. He said the Sawalkot Hydel Project has been contracted to NCC led consortium of Norway. 450 MW Baglihar project will be commissioned by 2004.

Dulhasti According to the Standing Committee’s 23rd report, the cost of Dulhasti, which has been delayed by four years, increased from Rs 12.629 B to Rs 35.598 B. The report recommended that responsibility should be fixed for huge time and cost over-runs. (DAILY EXCELSIOR 080302, 180302)

Ranganadi HEP commissioned The NEEPCO with assistance from the NE Council has commissioned all the 3 units of 135 MW each of the 405 MW Ranganadi HEP in Arunachal Pradesh, the largest HEP commissioned in the North East. With this, NEEPCO has achieved its capacity addition target of 654 MW during the 9th plan period and raised its installed capacity to 1105 MW. The project comprises of a 68 m high concrete dam and a water conductor system of length 10.78 km passing through a difficult geological terrain. The diversion dam is located at Yazali on River Ranganadi and the powerhouse is located 29 kms away at Hoz on the bank of river Dikrong. Annual envisaged energy generation is 1876 Gwh (i.e. 52.8% PLF is on very high side). (PIB PR 280302)

Public hearing on Athirappilly Some of the important observations and recommendations of the Kerala State Pollution Board Panel on the Public Hearing of the Proposed Athirappilly HEP conducted on Feb. 6, 2002:

The public contended that the EIA was not conducted properly and entirely. Some of the studies were conducted during rainy season only and round the year study was not conducted. The project proponent did not cover many aspects primarily required for EIA.

The matters related to deforestation, socio-economic aspects and impact on downstream sites were not dealt with in the EIA in detail.

The “Rapid EIA” done by the project proponent is incomplete, inadequate and a comprehensive EIA is necessary for actual assessment of the environment impacts.

The concept by the KSEB that ‘the downstream area will get a constant flow due to power generation’ is against facts and baseless. The quantity of the constant flow throughout 24 hours is not specified in the EIA. The water budgeting aspects with respect to irrigation, water supply and salinity intrusion is not considered. The aquatic organisms will be seriously affected and damaged due to the significant changes in the flow pattern especially during night time.

There is no adequate water for power generation. The present water scarcity in the downstream side of Chalakudy River will be aggravated and the irrigation and water supply schemes will be affected adversely. There will be salt-water intrusion.

The EIA is silent about the impact in the river system during summer season. The storage of water in pits and rock pools is not sufficient to maintain the life in the river and the non-availability of water will completely damage most of the aquatic organisms.

The KSEB admitted that the costs due to social and environmental impacts were not accounted while fixing the cost of electricity.

The absence of Athirappilly waterfalls and Vazhachal rapids after 6 pm will affect the life in the river stretch up to the Kannankuzhy and this is not acceptable as the natural system of waterfalls is completely lost for 12 hours besides the ecological impact due to absence of water that is essential for the existence of the aquatic life.

The panel observed that the impact on the tribes at Vazhachal (60 families) should have been considered and there should have been rehabilitation plans.

145 representations were received in response to the public notice on the public hearing. During the public hearing 117 representations were received. The entire project affected people who attended the public hearing opposed the implementation of the project. (PR "Chalakudy River" 260302)

Niagara-like project for Athirapally suggested In a questionable move, the environment impact study agency Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute of the controversial Athirapally HEP in central Kerala has suggested a Niagara and Victoria model of project, which combines power generation with tourism. At the famous falls on the US-Canada border, water is stopped during the night for power generation and allowed to cascade down during the day. However, it is indeed very strange to see that an academic body, who was entrusted the task of doing an EIA for the project, is now seen to be publicly advocating that very project, thus proving that the body has abdicated the responsibility of a responsible EIA agency, raising many questions on the EIA study. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 310302)

Iruppu HEP in Karnataka rejected The forest dept has rejected the Environment study report of the proposed Iruppu HEP in Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary of Kodagu district. The Deputy Conservator of Forests of Kodagu has drawn attention to many mistakes and contradictions in the report done by Institute of Catchment studies and Environment Management. As the project region comes within the limits of Wildlife sanctuary, it is not possible to give permission for the project; the Chief Wildlife Warden has clarified. (KANNADA PRABHA-B 110302)

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan: Tarbela-affected still await resettlement According to a report, many of the people affected by Tarbela dam are still not resettled after 26 years. These people allegedly refused to settle in Sindh when the govt. was forced to offer them land there under a WB condition for the release of $ 2.5 B for Ghazi Barotha Power Project. The Social Organisation for Mutaasirin-i-Tarbela claimed that in 1996, a WB team held meetings with the affected people of Tarbela, collected copies of the claims and found out that more than 3 000 claims had not been entertained. An Independent Tarbela Commission was then constituted. ITC received 11 000 applications, out of which 5 000 claims were for residential plots and 6 000 for agriculture land. However, the applications were unilaterally processed and out of 6 000 of them, only 1 954 were declared genuine. The deputy secretary West Pakistan had issued orders for the allocation of 40 000 Ha of land in Sindh and Punjab for resettlement of the displaced people. So far, only 12 000 Ha has been allocated, which means that 70 % of the cases are still outstanding. (SUNGI Development Foundation-Pak 21/03/02)

Pakistan to pay Impregilio for Ghazi Barotha Pakistan has agreed to pay $ 45 M to the Impregilio lead consortium constructing the $ 2.5 B Ghazi Barotha HEP. The payment is required by the consortium to resume construction of the project. The contractor submitted claims worth $ 70 M after the suspension of work following the 11 Sept. attacks. The project is already behind schedule by 2 years. (DAILY EXCELSIOR 040402)

Opposition to Thal Canal project in Pakistan The Chief Executive Secretariat decided to review the controversial Greater Thal Canal Project, increase water supply to Sindh to facilitate sowing of Kharif crops, and approach the Supreme Court over the interpretation of Clause 14-B of the Water Accord, 1991. As a consequence of the decisions, the construction of Thal Flood Canal, which had been started by WAPDA even before ECNEC could have accorded approval to it, would be stopped. The meeting agreed on preparing a fresh PC-1 of the Thal Flood Water Canal, and restored its earlier nomenclature 'Greater Thal Canal'. Under the 1991 Water Accord, no irrigation project could be undertaken by the federal government or any provincial government without prior certification of the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) about the availability of water.

Sindhi Activists from different part of UK gathered on 23 March in front of Pak High Commission in London expressed their opposition to the construction of Greater Thal Canal Project.

PNRDP Resolution The participants of the political dialogue on "Greater Thal Flood Canal" scheme under the auspices of Pakistan Network Of Rivers, Dams and People, unanimously rejected the decision of ECNEC & CDWP of approving the project. They also termed this decision as detrimental to the national interest as well as social, political and environmental interests of lower riparian.  They demanded immediate release of water from Mangla for the Kharif crops of Sindh. (Sindh Water Committee PR 210302 DAWN 190302 PNDRP PR 160302)

Opposition to CRBCP in PakistanThe govt has allocated Rs 3.1 billion for Chashma Right Bank Canal project, which will now, to be completed in 2004. The Chashma irrigation was an ongoing project, which envisaged construction of 170-mile long canal taking off from the Right Bank of Chashma Barrage at River Indus and 700-mile long distributaries and minors. The project was being implemented in three stages. Besides other reasons the project could not take off due to differences between Punjab and the NWFP.

After ADB’s inability to solve the problems due to CRBC, the affected people and Sungi Foundation has sent a petition to the ADB inspection panel that the project violates fundamental policies of ADB. (Dawn 190402, PNDRP)

Sri Lanka to commence Upper Kotmale HEP The Japan funded 150 MW project to be completed in five years will cost $ 336 M. Power Minister assured the local residents affected by the project would be given housing and job opportunities. (Xinhua News Agency 260402)

Nepal: Arun HEPThe water resources and energy secretaries from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal, have agreed to develop the Arun Valley HEPs. According to the plan, Arun River cascading down the eastern hills of the Nepal will have 1 100 MW capacity — with the Arun III to have 401 MW, Upper Arun 350 MW and Lower Arun 355 MW— that would feed a sub-regional grid interconnecting the national systems of the four neighbours. The ADB has agreed to analyse the detailed financial, technical and implementation aspects of the projects, and provide technical assistance for the studies. However experts say that the project may not move ahead in the light of the country’s worsening security situation. The feasibility studies of Arun III had been finished in 1993. But the then Govt. was forced to abort it after the WB, which had supported it for 10 years, decided to pull out in 1995. There are experts who say, "Nepal will not have any problem so long as the development cost is at par with the international price—that is less than $ 1,200 a KW." (KATHMANDU POST 120302)

Reliance, Sahara interested in Nepal Hydro? Reliance and Sahara Groups have separately shown interest in setting up HEPs in Nepal. Reliance had earlier shown interest in 300 MW upper Karnali HEP. It was ultimately allotted to Elysee Frontiere, a Singapore based French company. That allocation now stands cancelled and the project is available for allocation to any company. However, the Nepalese officials are hopeful that Reliance would take up much more ambitious, 10 800 MW Karnali Chisapani project, in which the infamous Enron group had earlier shown interest. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 230302)

Expensive Melamchi waterThe $ 468 M Melamchi Drinking Water Project in Nepal would supply water from 2007. The executive director of Environment and Public Health Organisation said, "On completion of the Melamchi project, 10,000 litres of water will cost Rs. 440, which is available at Rs. 40 these days." Five NGOs, including ENPHO, have formed a consortium to study the availability, price and quality of drinking water in the Valley. According to their calculations, the water will cost Rs. 30 per 1,000 litres per month for first 6,000 litres and Rs. 65 up to 15,000 litres and Rs. 85 for over 15,000 litres of water. They alleged that the Govt. did not ask for any suggestions from the locals before bringing in such an extravagant scheme for less than a million people living in the Valley. The local govts. like municipalities were not involved in the decision. According to the new provision, all the connections, including the public tap stands will have meters. Homes and business houses with deep tube wells will need to have a licence and make payments for the water they extract. (KATHMANDU POST 260302)

AROUND THE WORLD

Massive demonstrations against Big Dams in Spain On March 10 some 300 000 people demonstrated in the streets of Catalonian capital, protesting against Spain govt.’s 15 year old proposal of Euro 4.2 B project that include over 100 dams and vast network of canals to divert water from the river Ebro in the North to the southeast of the country. One of the demonstrators said, “What Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy have done to increase awareness about the damage that such megalomaniac projects can cause is phenomenal. Their dedication has told us that intellectuals must also become activists if humanity is to progress”. (THE HINDU 140302)

Canada scrapes costly dam proposalAlberta and Saskatchewan scrapped plans for a multibillion-dollar dam in the western Canadian provinces, saying the costs would outweigh the benefits. A study into the Meridian Dam, commissioned by the two govts. last year, concluded the cost could have been $ 2.3 B to $ 3.5 B. (IRN PR 130302)

Demolition of Juru Dam in Malaysia The problem of flash floods faced by some 120 000 people living in housing estates and traditional villages in Malaysia will be resolved to some extent when the Juru Dam built in 1950 is demolished. The dam was built for irrigation and to restrict the flow of seawater. (Bernama (Malaysian National News Agency), 220202)

Swiss bank quits Turkish dam Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, has pulled out of a controversial Ilisu dam project in Turkey, saying it was concerned about its social and environmental impacts. Its future had already been thrown into doubt after the main contractors in the $ 1.5 B project - British consortium firm Balfour Beatty and Impregilo of Italy - withdrew in Nov. 2001 for similar reasons. Critics have argued that it would flood hundreds of sq km of land, including the sites of ancient Ottoman and Byzantine towns and villages. More than 30 000 local people, mostly ethnic Kurds, would be displaced. Neighbouring Syria and Iraq have also objected to what they say is a potential reduction of the water flow in the River Tigris. (BBC News 270202)

AMEC pulls out of Yusufeli Dam in Turkey Just before the launch of a major campaign against AMEC's participation in the controversial Yusufeli Dam in Turkey, the company has announced its withdrawal. The company was seeking a £ 68 M export credit for the project from the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department. Export credits are also being sought from COFACE, France's export credit agency, by the French company Spie Batignoles, in which AMEC has a 46 % share. The Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project said, "We are delighted that AMEC has withdrawn from this project.  For minorities on the ground whose homes livelihood and ways of life are threatened by this project this a huge victory." (IRN PR 130302)

China: Three Gorges a toxic bombThe Chinese academics and govt. advisers say officials are rushing the job, leaving a “time bomb” of toxic waste in the form of 3-G reservoir on the Yangtze river. That would create a tragedy of astonishing proportions as the Yangtze basin is home to 350 M people. The dam threatens a double blow to the Yangtze’s water quality. Not only will pollutants on the reservoir bed ooze into the water, but also some 155 B cubic feet of wastewater, which currently reaches the sea, will concentrate behind the dam. That will stock a cocktail of arsenic, mercury, lead, cyanide and other cancer-causing heavy metals in reservoir designed to water some of China’s most fertile farmland. It is also due to provide drinking water for millions. Beijing gave final approval last year to the largest water diversion project in history, the South-to-North project, which will divert fresh water from the Yangtze to the northern cities. Critics say the clean-up plan concentrates on removing physical threats to navigation- such as buildings, trees and bridges – and largely ignores the domestic and industrial pollution which encrusts the river’s banks or lies buried in the earth. The dam will flood 137 cities and towns; 1300 factories; 1100 villages; 4000 hospitals and clinics; 40 000 grave-sites and at least 178 rubbish dumps containing 2.8 million tonnes of garbage.

China plans to resolve funding problems for its $ 22 B Three Gorges HEP by offering shares on the domestic stock market and through a Hong Kong listing. It could also seek a listing in London. The 18 200 MW generating capacity of the world's biggest dam will be injected into the listed company at a cost of about $ 12.2 B, making it potentially China's largest listed company. The project will require the mandatory resettlement of more than 1 M people, and it may increase the risk of earthquakes. (IRN PR 130302, THE HINDU-D 170302)

IRRIGATION OPTIONS

Local Water Development Project brings prosperity A project under Kandi (Integrated Watershed) Development Project has brought posperity to farmers of Pargana village in Nurpur Subdivision. A 400 m long canal dug from Jabber rivulet made possible by contributions of the village and the project, has created a perennial irrigation source for the farmers. (TRIBUNE 040302)

Rajkheta: Where every drops counts Rajkheta one of the backward and drought prone villages in Chhattisgarh has shown what people’s participation in water conservation can achieve. Catching water where it falls has been the driving dictum in the efforts by a small group of people under the aegis of the Surguja Gramin Vikas Sansthan. Bunding of arable fields, check dams and in situ water conservation has led to dramatic rise in water table by 20 to 30 feet, as against 50-60 feet depth in the past. Five years back only 0.2 % of the 4 998 Ha was under some form of irrigation. Irrigation to 243 Ha of land is now assured: a significant gain of 230 Ha in less than 5 years with well irrigation within reach of most of the 249 households in the village. The total investment made was Rs 3.1 M with tribals contributing additional Rs 0.6 M by way of labour. (Third World Network Features 220302)

Gujarat Water ConservationGujarat govt. has decided to implement the Sardar Patel Sahbhagi Jalsanchay Yojana all over the state instead of Saurashtra alone where it has met with success. About 40 000 checkdams will be constructed under the scheme for which the Govt. will allocate over Rs 248.4 M. The minister said the govt. had in last four years increased the irrigation potential to 2.7 M Ha as compared with 1.93 M Ha in 1998. (THE TIMES OF INDIA-A 230302)

WB loan for Tanks The WB has approved a $ 98.9 M credit for the Karnataka Community-Based Tank Management Project that supports a local approach to managing water resources in rural communities by returning the responsibility for tank development to village-level user groups. This project will revitalise about 2 000 existing tank systems to benefit about 1.5 M rural households. (http://www.worldbank.org.in)

Kindi dam in Karnataka The Govt. is constructing Kindi Dam to be built across the river North Pinakini, at a cost of Rs 8.7 M to provide irrigation to over 700 Ha of land and arrest depletion of the water table in and around Gowribidanur taluk. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 280302)

IRRIGATION

Canal irrigated area comes downIn the period 1990-98, the net irrigated area has increased from 48.023 M Ha to 54.563 M Ha, an increase of about 6.5 M Ha. As a percentage of net sown area, in this period, net irrigated area has gone up from 33.61% to 38.42%. Most of the increase has come from tubewells. The net irrigated area under tubewells has increased from 14.257 M Ha in 1990 to 18.432 M Ha in 1998.In the same period, the net sown area under canals has come down from 17.453 M Ha to 17.092 M Ha. Some of the agricultural states are allocating less to irrigation. e.g. in UP, the allocation for irrigation & flood control came down from the peak of Rs 14.341 B in 1996-97 to Rs 9.07 B in 2001-02.  (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 260302)

Move to privatise irrigation in East? Union Agricultural Secretary has said that it has been decided to allow private sector in irrigation water management in Eastern India. Govt. will give soft loans to private companies for this. Discussion is also on to allow private companies in foodgrains market. (RASHTRIYA SAHARA 050402)

CAG: Financial bungling in Orissa irrigation projects The latest CAG report submitted in the Orissa Assembly pointed that there was 26 % cost overrun in capital projects in the state. The irregularities involved extra and unproductive spending to the tune of Rs 11.152 B, which constituted nearly 36.24 % of the total expenditure of the WRD during the last five years. Despite increase in assured irrigation potential from 17 to 43 % during 1993-2000, foodgrain production sharply dropped by an alarming 28 % owing to the lack of maintenance of irrigation facilities. [Incidentally this is the same period when WB funded Orissa Water Resources Consolidation Project was in operation.] There is a gap of nearly 47 % between the creation and utilisation of irrigation potential. (DAILY EXCELSIOR 240302)

No tangible benefits from Kerala Irrigation projects The Evaluation Division of the Planning Board, which evaluated nine irrigation projects in Kerala, has found that after spending Rs 12.89 B, these projects have not brought any tangible benefits. As per revised estimates at 1999 rates, the total cost of these nine projects stood at Rs 24.629 B, the actual cost likely to be much more. The increase in cost in the original estimate was as high as 3329 % for some projects. The Kallada Irrigation Project was the biggest irrigation scheme in the State, taken for execution in 1961 at an estimated cost of Rs 132.8 M. The revised estimate as per the 1999 rates stood at Rs 7.60 B. A huge amount of Rs 6.20 B had been spent on it. The original estimate of the Idamalayar project was Rs 178.50 M when commenced in 1981. The latest estimated cost is Rs 2.986 B. The project was schedule to be completed by the end of Eighth Plan. The project is now proposed to be completed by 2007-08. (THE HINDU-D 290402)

Rs 720 M drain on 12 J&K irrigation schemes According to the report of CAG, top officials and other concerned agencies in J&K are responsible for massive irregularities and mis-appropriation of public funds worth millions and wasteful expenditure of over Rs 720 M on the works, which lacked administrative approval and requisite technical sanctions. The officials of at least 17 Divisions in the State have been held responsible for creating extra liability of Rs 170 M by executing un-approved works for which no funds were ever allotted. The department has failed to provide any relief to the people despite the expenditure of Rs 4.149 B during the period from 1997-2001. The loan of over Rs 300 M taken from NABARD and Central Government during 1996-2001 was inefficiently utilised. At least 12 irrigation schemes taken up for execution during the period 1972—84 were incomplete as of April 2001. The revised estimated cost of these projects has increased to 359 %. Funds over rupees 70 M have already been spent on these schemes in last over 25-30 years. Earlier the estimated cost had been assessed as Rs 7.6 M but now it has been shot up to Rs 3.52 B.  (DAILY EXCELSIOR 110402)

Heavy Leakage in canals in KarnatakaA WRD survey has revealed leakage to the extent of 15 - 18 tmcft in 37 main canals and distributaries of major and medium irrigation projects, assuming water release for 180 days in a year. The Water Resources Minister said the study was taken up after he was convinced of the truth of complaints of leakage during a visit to Malprabha Project due to poor quality of work or lack of maintenance. The leakage in the Malprabha (leakage 500 cusecs), going on for years, was to the extent of 20 %. (THE HINDU-D 140302)

Maharashtra Irrigation Corps default, Ratings down MKVDC, an undertaking of the govt. of Maharashtra, have defaulted on interest payment of around Rs 740 M. The district central cooperative banks and the apex cooperative banks have an exposure of Rs 10 B in the bonds. The cooperative banks have to incur losses if they try to sell the bonds in the market. MKVDC owes contractors around Rs 20 B. The corporation was forced to raise new loans to service old loans and to pay off contractors’ dues.

CRISIL has placed the ratings assigned to Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (five bond programmes aggregating Rs 21.34 B), Konkan Irrigation Development Crop (Rs 310 M), Tapi Irrigation Development Corp (Rs 910 M) and Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corp (two issues – Rs 3.08 B) under ‘watch with negative implications’ following delay in interest payment. Since the bond issuers were unlikely to generate adequate revenues for debt servicing, the budgetary support by state govt. would support such obligations. These ratings, are thus reflective of the credit quality of GOM, says CRISIL. Projects like MKVDC have been adjudged by the rating agencies as economically unviable. (BUSINESS STANDARD 180402, INDIAN EXPRESS 200402, THE ECONOMIC TIMES 210402)

Water thefts by ‘big’ farmers in Haryana Farmers in the villages falling under the jurisdiction of the Rai Water Service Division and Samalkha subdivision have been facing an acute shortage of canal water for irrigation for the past few months. They alleged that theft of irrigation water by influential farmers backed by political bosses of ruling party and some officials is rampant. (THE TRIBUNE 200302)

Rs 1800 B required to complete ongoing projects Due to endemic and chronic time and cost overruns in major and medium irrigation projects, at least Rs 1800 B will be required during tenth and eleventh five year plans to complete some 160 ongoing projects.

Budget hikes allocation for irrigation The Union Budget for 2002-03 has raised the allocation for Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Program to Rs 28 B from Rs 20 B. The allocation for RIDF, a substantial portion of which goes for irrigation, has gone up from Rs 50 B to Rs 55 B. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 250302, BUSINESS STANDARD 010302)

Balh irrigation project HP govt. has approved the Rs. 420 M Balh valley medium irrigation project to irrigate areas on the left bank of the Suketi, a tributary of the Beas. (THE TRIBUNE 020402)

Canal system for Chhattisgarh A Rs 1.75 B canal system for irrigating 68 000 Ha of land in Chhattisgarh will be in place by June 2003. The 834 km canal is the biggest irrigation project in Chhattisgarh and will be completed in a period of 15 months. (THE HINDU-D 190302)

WATER SECTOR

WB loans for Rajasthan Water Project The WB has approved a $140 M IDA loan for the water sector restructuring project in Rajasthan. “The project is aimed at use of state’s limited water resources by improving its management, particularly in irrigation sector,” a state Govt. official said. According to 1996 data, the state’s total availability of water was estimated at 50.6 BCM, of which groundwater accounted for 28 %, internal surface water 37 % and inter state surface diversion 35 %. (BUSINESS STANDARD-D 060302)

Inter State Water Disputes Act amended The Parliament has approved a series of amendments to Inter-State Water Dispute Act of 1956. The changes empower the Union Govt. to fix limits on the time taken by tribunals constituted. (THE TIMES OF INDIA-D 120302)

TN Objections TN govt. has objected to introduction of a provision in the amended ISWDP 1956 which calls for verification of river water and reservoir data supplied by the States and appointment of empowered persons to summon the records and information from the state govts. concerned. (THE HINDU 020402)

WB Credit for UP Water SectorThe $ 149 M loan is meant for UP water sector restructuring project. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES-D 090302)

GROUND WATER

Heavy metals in Faridabad Groundwater High concentrations beyond permissible limits of Iron, Copper, fluoride and sulphates found by CGWB in groundwater in and around Faridabad has been attributed to the discharge of untreated industrial effluents. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 110402)

Groundwater pollution in Delhi In a test conducted by Development Alternatives under its Clean – India 2000 project at 54 locations in Delhi, it was found that the groundwater was contaminated with chemical pollutants like Fluorides, Nitrates and Iron due to excessive withdrawal and leakages from industrial effluents, solid waste and chemical fertilizers dumps. CGWB agreed that groundwater in Delhi has these and also excess salinity. (THE HINDU 070402 THE TIMES OF INDIA 080402)

Toxics in Ghaziabad GroundwaterThe chromium (a known carcinogenic) content in Ghaziabad groundwater has been found to be almost five times the permissible limit. Since over three years, reports of untreated industrial effluents being pumped into groundwater are coming, but no action have been taken. The toxics traveling to Delhi groundwater is not ruled out, agrees UPPCB officials. Ghaziabad UPPCB chief says it is not practical to take action. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 010402)

Groundwater pollution in Noida A joint survey by the Central and the UP Pollution Control Boards have described Noida’s groundwater “unfit even for agriculture”. Yet, 200 MLD water supply is from tubewells. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 010402)

Groundwater pollution in Nawanshahr As per a survey by Punjab Pollution Control Board, groundwater within two km radius of Toansa industrial belt has become highly polluted with very high content of fluorides, chlorides, BOD and COD and is unfit for human consumption. The pollution is attributed to mainly two units: Ranbaxy Laboratories and DSM Anti-Infectives Ltd and has been going on for years, without either the state govt. or the PPCB taking any action. (HINDUSTAN TIMES 200402)

Groundwater pollution in Hapur According to CGWB the groundwater pollution levels in and around Hapur have been found to be very high including contaminants like Carbonic Acid, Chromium and Fluorides. Industrial units are pumping industrial effluents into groundwater. (RASHTRIYA SAHARA 200402)

Groundwater pollution in Kanpur Groundwater in and around Kanpur is found to be contaminated by nitrates and toxic agents discharged by tanneries and chrome plating factories. (THE HINDUSTAN TIMES 090402)

Groundwater quality monitoring project in Maharashtra Directorate of Groundwater Surveys & Development Agency, Pune has invited bids to set up groundwater quality monitoring facilities for 3370 Base Line stations, 1191 trend stations and 1734 trend-cum-surveillance stations, to be set up under the World Bank funded hydrology project. (INDIAN EXPRESS 130402)

Grim Groundwater scenario in UP As per a survey done for the World Bank funded Swajal Project, there are 44 over exploited, 171 critical and 54 semicritical blocks in the state which add up to 33% of blocks. Worst affected is the western UP, where there are 37 overexploited, 77 critical and 20 semicritical blocks. In western UP, groundwater level has fallen by 4 mts or more in 19 blocks over the last decade. Ten districts which need urgent attention are: Budaun, Baghpat, Ghazipur, Farukkhabad, Kanpur city, Lucknow, Sitapur, Sant Kabirnagar, Shravasti and Pratapgarh. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 150402)

CGWB’s National Recharge Master Plan CGWB has prepared a Rs 245.13 B master plan to recharge the groundwater in the country. The plan for Punjab, Haryana, HP, J&K and Chandigarh is for Rs. 15.78 B. It includes rooftop-harvesting structures; recharge shafts, revival of ponds, trenches, check dams and gabian structures. (TRIBUNE 190402)

Privatisation and globalisation of pump markets in East? The International Water Management Institute claims that the best way to promote groundwater irrigation in India’s groundwater rich eastern region would be to remove pump subsidies and open up the pump market to international suppliers. “Subsidies and import restrictions have kept pump prices in India artificially inflated by over 35-45 % over those in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh”, it states. In east UP, local irrigation pump dealers are already acting as implementers of govt.’s pump subsidy programme. (BUSINESS STANDARD 230402)

WATER SUPPLY OPTIONS

Khatris of Himachal Even as people of Hamirpur, Kangra and Mandi districts face drought like water scarcity, people in a number of villages are using Khatri (pits dug in rocks to collect rain water or seepage water) water to solve their water problems. This is a traditional water harvesting method in these areas. (TRIBUNE 230402)

CGWB Master plan for HP The Rs 4.655 B master plan involves revival of springs and ponds, construction of check dams, rooftop rainwater harvesting and sub-surface dykes. (THE TRIBUNE 140402)

Haryana plans for land treatment The govt. plans to spend Rs 300 M in the next fiscal in treating about 10 000 Ha of land to check soil erosion and restore the capability of degraded land in the Shivalik foothills, under the Integrated Watershed Development (Kandi) Project. The state Govt. has released over Rs 240 M to treat 8 000 Ha during the current year. Around 7 000 Ha falling in the districts of Ambala, Panchkula and Yamunanagar had already been treated. (BUSINESS LINE-D 270302)

President sets an example The groundwater level over the past two years has risen by 2 mts due to rainwater harvesting in Rashtrapati Bhawan. The cost diversion of drains into existing wells was Rs 1.6 M.

Rainwater harvesting in Delhi AIIMS Housing Society, Charak Sadan, has put in place rainwater harvesting capacity of 1195 cubic m in an area of 6330 sq m. (THE HINDUSTAN TIMES 050302 THE HINDU 080402 TRIBUNE 240402)

LAKES, TANKS, WETLANDS, GLACIERS…

Lakes and Tanks in Delhi Delhi High Court, in response to a PIL by NGO Tapas, has given a notice to Union Env Ministry and Archeological Survey of India regarding upkeep of 508 lakes and tanks of Delhi. The Court has directed PWD to stop broadening of Aruna Asaf Ali Road as it was leading to filling up of a tank. (INDIAN EXPRESS 090302 RASHTRIYA SAHARA 100302)

Hope for Renuka LakeRenuka, one of HP’s three national status wetlands – the others being Pong reservoir and Chandratal – situated not far from Nahan in lower Himalayas was in the list of dying lakes till recently. Now Ministry of Env. and Forests have started efforts to stop silting and start desilting. (INDIAN EXPRESS 030302)

Deterioration of Ajmer Lake Ajmer’s Annasagar lake has shrunk from 16.4 Ha to 10 Ha. Govt. has built colonies in the catchment area of the lake since 1971, which then disgorge their sewage into the lake. Just 2% of lake catchment is free from encroachment. (INDIAN EXPRESS 280402)

Melting glaciers due to global warming At least 44 glacial lakes in the Himalayas are filling so rapidly they could burst their banks in five years sending millions of gallons of floodwaters swirling down valleys, putting at risk of thousands of lives. The UNEP sources said, "Our findings indicate that 20 glacial lakes in Nepal and 24 in Bhutan have become potentially dangerous as a result of climate change." The UNEP and ICIMOD survey has identified 3 252 glaciers and 2 323 glacial lakes in Nepal and 677 glaciers and 2 674 glacial lakes in Bhutan. The data indicates that the glaciers in Bhutan are retreating at a rate of 30 to 40 m a year. The Tradkarding Glacier, which feeds the Tsho Rolpa glacial lake in Nepal's Rolwaling Valley, retreated 100 m in some of the years within the last decade. In August 1985, a sudden outburst flood from the Dig Tsho glacial lake in Nepal destroyed 14 bridges and $ 1.5 M worth of damage was caused to the nearly completed Namche Small Hydropower Plant. India has refused access to a major study that could stop hundreds of Himalayan lakes from devastating collapse.

Studies conducted by Geological Survey of India has shown that Gangotri, Pindari and Milam in Uttaranchal have been retreating at the rate of 24.6, 23.4 and 12.5 m and Bara Shigri in HP at the rate of 31.2 m annually. These glaciers are the key modulating the climate and hydrology of the subcontinent. Yet, less than 30 out of 5,000 glaciers have been studied and barely ten for 10 years continuously. The govt. has decided to set up a National Centre for Field Operations in Himalayan Glaciology under Dept. of S & T, to begin with, for studies in the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra basin. These rivers satisfy 80% of country’s needs of drinking water and irrigation. (ENS 180402 IANS 160402 THE INDIAN EXPRESS 280402 RASHTRIYA SAHARA 020302)

Demand for Chhatisgarh Tank Board Constitution of a Chhatisgarh Tank Board has been demanded for the management and maintenance of huge water bodies like the Telibandha and Buddha Talab. (THE HINDU 060402)

RURAL WATER SUPPLY

World Bank in Monitoring RWS The Water and Sanitation Program-South Asia of the World Bank is providing support to the govt. of India’s Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission to develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation system. The Mission is implementing a Sector Reforms Project in Rural Water Supply aimed at institutionalizing community participation in planning, implementing, operating and maintaining RWSS. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 140302)

Villagers boycott the ballot The villagers of Malegaon Theka in Wardha district have boycotted the election process in the recently concluded Jila Parishad and Arvi Assembly by poll. Surrounded by five big or middle-sized irrigation dams (Bor, Mahakali, Borkhedi, Panchadhara and Madan, all in the radius of 10 km, with the last one just 2 km away), they have no water for their farms as village is at an elevated level. 15% people have migrated in the past few years. (THE INDIAN EXPRESS 030302)

German aid for Rajasthan Rajasthan has so far received 95 M DM (about Rs 19 B) – DM 55 M grant & the rest loan - from Germany for supplying drinking water from the Indira Gandhi Canal to 141 villages in Churu, Jhunjhunu and Hanumangarh districts. (THE HINDU 020302)

Water crisis grips Karnataka districts The villages in nearly 40 % of the 175 taluks in Karnataka are to witness shortage of drinking water in the coming months, the drought-monitoring Cell has predicted. The monsoon shortfall witnessed last year is considered to be the worst in the last 30 years. (BUSINESS LINE 160302)

WB Credit for KarnatakaThe 6-year $ 151.6 M Credit for rural water supply & sanitation project is supposed to assist in increasing rural communities’ access drinking water & sanitation services; decentralisation to gram panchayats and user groups. (ECONOMIC TIMES 090302)


PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE WITH SANDRP

1. Power Finance, Financial Institutions in India’s Hydropower Sector, By Peter Bosshard, Published in India by SANDRP, March 2002, pp 132, Rs. 100/-

2. Bade Bandh, Bharat ka Anubhav Hindi Translation of WCD India Country study, By R Rangachari, Nirmal Sengupta, Ramaswamy Iyer, Pranab Banerji & Shekhar Singh, SANDRP, 2001, pp 268, Rs. 100/-.

3. The Drought, the State and the People: An Experience in Gujarat SANDRP Dossier on Gujarat Drought 2000, Edited by Sanjay Sangvai, pp 90, Rs. 75/-.

4. Large Dams and Their Alternatives: South Asia Consultation   Dossier on WCD South Asia Public Hearing, 1999, pp 166, Rs. 100/-.

5. Report of the Daud Committee on Sardar Sarovar Displaced, Govt. of Maharashtra, SANDRP a co-publisher, pp 54, Rs. 30/-.

6. Dam Vs Drinking Water: Exploring the Supreme Court Narmada Judgement, by L C Jain, Parisar Publication, 2001, pp 131, Price Rs. 75/-.

7. Proceedings of the Consultation on the Report of the World Commission on Dams, Ranchi 7-8 August, 2001, Edited by DK Mishra, Barh Mukti Abhiyan, Oct. 2001, Rs. 40/-.

8. Testimonies from the Ground: A Report on Tehri Rehabilitation by Vimal Bhai and Preeti Sampat, SANDRP, Nov. 2001, pp 35, Rs. 20/-

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Recommendations(Extracts)

Parliamentary Standing committee on Urban and Rural Development (2002)

Ministry of Rural development

(Department of Drinking Water Supply)

Demands for grants: 2002-2003

Thirty Second Report

2.16 The committee finds that there are certain disturbing features with regard to the implementation of one of the top most priority programmes of the Govt. i.e. to provide potable drinking water to the rural population. The shortcomings as noticed by the committee are as below.

The availability of the funds is less than one third of the estimated requirement in the comprehensive action plan. In view of the inadequate allocation, the committee expresses their doubt about the fulfillment of the set targets in the National Agenda for Governance of coverage of all rural habitations by 2004.

Not only inadequate allocation to the Department, but what is provided at BE stage is reduced at RE stage.

Whatever allocation is provided it is not being meaningfully utilised. There is huge underspending as regards the release of funds by the Centre to State Govts. Besides, the position is alarming when the States’ physical and financial progress is analysed.

There is huge underspending with the State Govts.

2.17 The Committee feels that under-utlilisation of resource is the main reason for getting the lesser allocation for Planning Commission/Ministry of Finance. Besides the Members find that the Department is not serious in the reasons for the dismal performance of such an important programme. Whenever asked about the reasons for slippage of targets, routine reply stating that NC and PC habitations are located in the difficult terrain etc. is furnished. The committee has been receiving this type of reply for the last two three years. This shows the casual approach of the Govt. Further, they are unhappy to note the reply of the Govt. that underspending is due to surrendering of Rs 61.82 crore to non-lapsable pool of resources for North-East. Besides, the Committee finds that the targets set during each of the year are somehow unrealistic. The Department has set the targets to cover 17,479 NC habitations, whereas they could cover 6,655 and 1,627 habitations during 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 respectively.

2.19 The committee finds that the actual ground reality in respect of coverage of habitations is something different. They have repeatedly been stressing on the Govt. to find out the ground reality by conducting survey by independent agencies. Besides they have also been recommending to have some in built mechanism for such survey after a fixed period of time. They find that the Department has agreed for such a survey after a period of five years. They hope that such a survey will be started very soon. They would also like that position of slippage of FCs category to NC and PC categories and PC to NC category is also taken care of during the said survey.

2.23 It is really a matter of concern that after more than five decades of independence and the plan development in the country, most of our school are yet to be provided the facility of drinking water, which is the basic necessity of life. The Department’s claim to cover all the habitations by 2002-2003 by providing drinking water seems unrealistic when the overall position of coverage of schools is analysed. Even if the Govt.’s data is believed, about 44% of the schools could only be provided drinking water so far. They also find that the data as given by the Department may be only of Govt schools. When the data regarding other schools i.e. private and public included, the situation may be further alarming, while the school coverage was taken into consideration under ARWSP since 1999-2002, the performance is very dismal. The Committee strongly recommends that all the schools should be provided drinking water within minimum possible time.

2.29 The Committee finds that the projection of 10th Plan in respect of proposed targets under drinking water supply programme are three times of what was allocated during 9th Plan. The Committee has their doubts about getting the adequate allocation from the Govt. The actual allocation during the first year of 10th Plan is an example in this regard. The Govt has provided nearly one-third of what was projected during 2002-2003. If similar trend is followed, the Department would be getting more or less the same of what they got during 9th Plan. There is doubt in achieving the laudable targets set during 10th Plan. The Committee, therefore, urges Govt to persuade the Planning Commission/Ministry of Finance to accept the urgency of providing adequate outlay for this sector. As stated by the Secretary during the course of oral evidence some efforts are being made to get the funds from various international agencies like World Bank.

2.35 The various issues with regard to providing drinking water to rural masses were discussed in the recent Conference of State Ministers in charge of rural drinking water supply and various valuable recommendations were made in this regard. One of the recommendations was to revise the norms, which were fixed years back during 1972-1973. While recommending for revision of the said norms, the Committee would like the first priority is accorded to cover all rural habitations within the existing norms.

2.48 The Committee is concerned to note the dismal performance of Sector Reform pilot projects as could be seen from data given by the Department. They fail to understand how the Department could be contended with such slow progress of the pilot districts.

2.49 The Committee finds that the Secretary during the course of oral evidence has acknowledged that to make these pilot projects successful, there is a need to change the mind set of the people.

2.59 The Committee is disturbed to note the position of availability of the drinking water in various schools in North-East, as acknowledged by the Secretary, very few schools could be provided with the drinking water facility.

2.77 The Committee observes that ensuring sustainability of drinking water sources is the major challenge that has to be faced by the country in the coming years. Due to uncontrolled extraction of Groundwater in various parts of the country, water table has reached a precarious situation. They also note that the various Centrally sponsored schemes depend totally on ground water. More stress to be given to alternate sources of water like, maintaining traditional sources of water and rainwater harvesting, etc. While noting that some of the states have done excellent work in this regard, specifically Mizoram, the Committee urges the Govt. to make the other States aware of the success stories of these States.

2.79 The Committee finds that the problem sustainability of water resources is being tackled by different Central Ministries like rural Development, Agriculture, Water Resources. They recommended that the Department of Drinking Water should coordinate with these Ministries.

2.82 As regards the quality of drinking water, the Committee finds that sufficient attention is not being paid in this regard. They are constrained to find the huge number of water treatment plants going defunct. They also recommend that further emphasis should be given for having a mobile water-testing laboratory in each district in the country.

2.83 While going through the data furnished by the Department with regard to the expenditure made during 8th and 9th Plan on sub-mission programmes to tackle quality problem, the Committee concludes that much emphasis is not being given in this regard. They also find that 10th plan Working Group has recommended for Rs 10 000 crore exclusively to deal with quality problem in drinking water.

2.84 The Committee notes that in Rajasthan, to tackle the quality problem on a temporary basis, domestic water filters have been provided under ARWSP.

2.85 the Committee is concerned to note that there is no research institute in nodal laboratory dealing exclusively with water quality R&D. they also note that the Government have proposed to set-up a Centre for Excellence for arsenic in Kolkata.

2.86 The Committee finds that a major pollutant of drinking water is fluoride. To tackle this problem adequate steps have not been taken by the Govt. They would like to recommend that the Govt. should set-up a fluorisis control cell at the Central level comprising of officials of both Rural and Urban Ministry and other concerned Ministries like Health, Water Resources.

2.102 Regarding the system of monitoring of rural drinking water supply programme, the Committee would like to recommend that the Department should think of devising a mechanism of having periodic meetings of concerned Union Ministers alongwith Central officials. They should also think of inviting MPs/MLAs of the State at the said meetings.

2.110 The Committee is also unhappy of the manner in which the Government instead of improving of existing schemes and consolidating their gains, if any, go on launching new schemes which again suffer for want of proper infrastructure are admitted by the Government in their written note.

3.16 Though the Committee has repeatedly been recommending that the Central Rural Sanitation Programme be given more importance and adequate outlay should be provided for the purpose, the following facts speak otherwise:

the targets fixed during 10th Plan to cover 50% of the population in the rural areas were reduced to 25%;

The outlay provided during 2002-03, the first year of 10th Plan is nearly 1/5th of the proposed outlay;

From 2000 onwards the number of toilets constructed is showing a downward trend

Only around 9% of the schools could provided with lavatory facilities and out of that only one half of the schools could be provided separate toilets for girls;

School sanitation is a hygienic aspect of the national health of the younger generation. However, the attention given to it has not been to the optimum level. It is disheartening to note that the Govt. is playing with statistics only, whereas on the ground, very negligible work has been done. A school without a toilet and washing facilities is unthinkable and below any civilised norms of the society.


Thousands of Gujarat villages to go thirsty The worst affected districts include Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Amreli and Jamnagar in Saurashtra region and Banaskantha, Patan and Mehsana in north Gujarat. In Amreli, 400 of 613 villages are dependent on tanker water. In Rajkot, by mid May, 700 of 976 villages will be facing scarcity. In Porbandar district, 65 of 155 villages are already dependent on tankers. Across Saurashtra, some 3200 villages are already dependent on tankers. The govt has so far spent more than Rs 30 B on laying two major pipelines for Saurashtra, which is yet to bring any benefits. State Water Supply Minister claims it would solve drinking water problem of over 3500 villages. He said Rs 85 B will be spent on these projects in the next 2-3 years.

Narmada waters for Ahmedabad, none for Saurashtra villages The Saurashtra villages continue to face drinking water scarcity even as Narmada waters are available to big towns like Ahmedabad. This when the Narmada project was pushed and justified in the name of Saurashtra and Kutch and there was supposed to be NO ALLOCATION for towns like Ahmedabad from drinking water share of SSP. (THE TIMES OF INDIA-A 170402, INDIAN EXPRESS 270402)

URBAN WATER SUPPLY

Double water tax in Rajkot The residents will now have to pay Rs 480, as against the present charge of Rs 240. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 080302 & 090302)

Water shortage in Delhi A study by TERI claims that the water table in most parts of Delhi is falling rapidly and in many places in South Delhi it is almost bone dry. The scarce rainwater runs off without being tapped. Delhi receives approximately 1150 MCM surface water from Yamuna, Ganga and Bhakra and of this, 60 % is from Yamuna. (THE TRIBUNE 150402)

Untreated water supply for drinking The latest report of CAG of India has revealed that the drinking water supplied by some projects, started by the Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation is not made suitable for human consumption. The main aim of the projects started in 1994, was to supply sufficient potable water to 2 151 towns below the population of 20 000. The Ministry has prepared Rs 20 B action plan. But up to March 2001, only 575 towns could be included and Rs 4.79 B has been released. According to report, water has not been tested in UP, Karnataka, Orissa, Manipur, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra before supplying as drinking water. Report also discloses large-scale fund diversion from the schemes. (JANSATTA-D 050402)

Budgetary resources not enough? The Union Minister of State for Urban Development has stated that the water supply and sanitation problem cannot be addressed from budgetary resources. "As against the investment requirement of Rs 220 B annually as per India Infrastructure Report, the budgetary support from govt. sources are available only to the tune of Rs 50 B per annum thereby leaving a gap of nearly Rs 170 B per annum." The statement seems to have been made to push for privatisation. (PIB PR 100402)

BOTTLED WATER BUSINESS

BIS Certificate is a must As per the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules (6th amendment), 2000 no person can manufacture, sell or exhibit for sale, packaged drinking water or mineral water without the certification mark from the Bureau of Indian Standards. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 220402)

Bottled Water BusinessRailways plan to provide Rail Neer in trains and at platforms, bottled at its own plants, for which tenders have been invited.

Parle’s Bisleri claims over 40% share in the organised market, though it is now declining, while Kinley (launched in Aug. 2000) with 28% market share is ahead of Aquafina, which is third with 10% share. Last summer, the Bottled water category grew by 24%. Nestle (selling in India at Rs 70 per litre) is finding it tough in water business. Nestle’s Perrier brand was disallowed in India as it does not confirm to Indian standards of acidity and calcium content. Total market for bottled water in India is estimated to be over Rs 8 B. Pepsi plans to set up at least three more plants in addition to its existing five plants, investing Rs 100 M in each plant. Coca-Cola plans to set up another 10-15 plants by the end of 2002, in addition to its existing 15 plants.

Hello water claims to sell 10000 Bottles of 20 L each and Parle claims to sell 12000 bottles of 20 L each daily in Delhi, the business is growing at 25% per annum.

According to a study, after the bottled water giants entered England, water rates increased 450%, company profits zoomed 692% and the salaries of the CEOs of the these companies have gone up 708%, and finally, the dysentery has gone up 600%.

Groupe Danone, a mineral water MNC known for premium water brand Evian (the world’s biggest global mineral water brand in terms of volumes, though Nestle is first in value terms), has been given permission to set up a office in India. It is negotiating to acquire Himalayan, a natural water brand.

Mineral water plant leaves villages dry A Kinley mineral water plant at Sattupalli in Khammam district in AP is drawing 0.225 M litres of groundwater daily, drying up the water sources of the villagers. There are two Kinley bottling plants in AP, the third one is coming up. (BUSINESS STANDARD 040302, 130302, 010402, BUSINEE LINE 130302, 030402, THE TIMES OF INDIA 180302, INDIAN EXPRESS 260302, THE ECONOMIC TIMES 110402, 120402)

No check on quality of water sold in jars According to the Prevention of Food Adulteration Dept, there are over 50 brands of water being sold in jars and most of them are non-ISI. The PFA dept is the only agency to check the quality of packaged mineral water. It lifts samples of only 1,2 and 5 litre water bottles. In the last three months, 9 of the 68 samples lifted by the dept were found adulterated. According to PFA dept, samples of water being sold in over five litre unsealed jars are not tested. (HINDUSTAN TIMES-D 300402)

WATER PRIVITISATION

Trashing water is good business for water companiesIn Chennai, two sister companies, French multinationals Onyx and Vivendi, are working at cross-purposes. While Vivendi is in partnership with civic authorities to convert scarce fresh water from a public service to a commercial product, Onyx collects the city's garbage from three key areas and dumps it in one of the most important freshwater ecosystems in the city. The experts maintain that if what remains of the city’s vast network of tanks and natural lakes is taken care of, the city can be self-sufficient in water and even meet future needs. At a cost of Rs. 650 000, CES Onyx collects and disposes at least 1000 tonnes of garbage everyday in and around the freshwater wetlands of Pallikaranai towards south of the city. Onyx is the garbage management arm of the French MNC Vivendi, which is also the largest water company in the world. Vivendi has a special consultancy with Metrowater to help improve the management of water supply to Chennai. Municipal waste dumping in Pallikarani can have a deadly effect on water bodies. The Onyx’s source says that that the decision to dump in Perungudi/Pallikaranai was the Municipal Corporation's. In fact, Onyx is merely continuing the decade-long tradition of dumping on wetlands. Metrowater, which manages the city's sewage, discharges "treated" sewage water directly into the wetlands. Chennai Municipal Corporation is now considering handing over the city's water supply and distribution to private companies. (www.corpwatchindia.org 250302)

WB push for privatisation in ChhatisgarhThe WB has agreed to provide financial assistance to the Chhattisgarh for water supply in the new capital being planned provided the management is given to private parties. (THE HINDU-D 180402, BUSINESS STANDARD 190402)

The water privatisation push The fact that 1.1 B people, mostly in the developing countries, lack access to adequate clean water is reason enough for the growing water industry to rejoice. Estimated to be worth $ 7 trillion, the global water industry has assured itself of profits at least for the next 25 years, during which time the number of people without access to potable water will move closer to 3 B mark. Water privatization is one of the many conditions that determine the extent of loans under the WB’s Country Assistance Strategy. Paraguay is the latest victim of this strategy as the Bank suspended a $ 46 M loan for not complying with the stipulated conditions attached to the loan. For accepting its pre-condition to raise water tariff by 95 % the WB had approved a similar loan of $ 110 M for Ghana in July 2001. If the recent violent protests in Bolivia and the emerging opposition in Ghana are any indication, privatisation of water is being resented by the civil society. Yet, there is no let down as govts in developing countries succumb to donor pressure for facilitating privatisation of their water utilities.

In India, already some 30 cities in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan are bidding their respective municipal water supply to handful of powerful multinational corporations specialising in water. Tirupur town in Tamil Nadu and Hubli-Dharwad in Karnataka has moved closer to privatisation of their water utilities. Delhi’s water supply will soon be in the hands of infamous Vivendi. The govt. has estimated that $ 65 B would be required in water and wastewater sector over the next decade and has urged the state govts to raise water tariffs to become eligible for credit. Interestingly, crucial decisions about water privatisation and cost recovery between donors and key govt. leaders are made behind closed doors and without the knowledge and consent of citizens. (DECCAN HERALD 100402)

Delhi Jal Board to go into private hands The Finance Minister of Delhi has announced that the Delhi Jal Board would be privatised in due coarse of time. Following advise of the WB private consultants Price Waterhouse Coopers, Netherlands based DHV and Tata Consulting Engrs were appointed in 2001 to carry out a study and suggest steps to re-structure DJB. Consultants will submit the report by Oct. 2002. The Bank also proposed that if it improves the position of DJB then Bank could give Rs 16.25 B for investment in water sector. WB has given the grant of Rs 75 M to the Delhi govt for consultancy. Some pilot projects have been started for privatisation. DJB will hike the water tariff before privatising the sector and a regulatory body is being suggested for fixing tariff. The cost of supplying 1 KL of water is Rs 0.4, whereas water rate for the same quantity is Rs. 0.035. The WB had recently dubbed the board as worse than any public utility in sub-Saharan Africa. (RASHTRIYA SAHARA 270302 & THE TIMES OF INDIA-D 250402)

WB push for privatisation criticized A National Water Parliament, called in Delhi on March 22, criticized the role played by the World Bank in using its loan conditionalities (e.g. in Delhi, UP, Orissa) to promote privatisation of water resources, violating people’s constitutional and natural water rights. (THE HINDU 230302)

War against privatisation in Bolivia In a defining struggle against globalisation, the people of Cochabamba, Bolivia took back their water from the hands of a corporate conglomerate. The WB had pressurised the Bolivian Govt. into privatising water companies in 1990. It refused credit to the public company which ran the water services, recommended to pull out public subsidies, and insisted on giving a monopoly to Aguas del Tunari, part of the British company International Water Ltd., in turn owned by the US engineering giant Bechtel. The new owners, who had been granted a 40-year concession, announced price hikes before they even began operations; in a region where the minimum wage is under $ 100 per month, people faced increases of $ 20 per month and more. Peasants now had to buy permits to collect rainwater from their own wells and roof tanks. All autonomous water systems had to be handed over without compensation. People revolted against all this. The Coordination for the defense of water and life organised the first protest in Dec. 1999 and numbers of protest later on. For two months no one paid water bills. Police fired on the crowd: hundreds of people were injured and two youths were blinded. President Banzer declared martial law on 8th April 2000. The water privatising company made an exit from the country. La Coordinadora talked with a Govt. delegation and they agreed that the water contract should be broken. The Cochabamba water revolt became an inspiring and powerful international symbol in the struggle for global economic justice. (Kashmir Times180302)


QUOTES

The trend of globalisation is that surplus capital is moving from the periphery countries to the centre, which is Unites States.

George Soros, International Financier (THE TIMES OF INDIA 220302)

Liberalisation and privatisation have been pursued as ends in themselves rather than as a means to attain more basic objectives of faster and equitable growth, or greater economic stability. Worse, these have been pursued even when the consequences have worked against the basic objectives.

N A Mujumdar, former principle adviser to RBI (BUSINESS LINE 060402)

It is strange that at a time when the govt. cannot find money for food-for-work programmes, it can spend crores on storage facilities.

Prof. Jean Dreze of Delhi School of Economics (OUTLOOK 040302)

The concept of self-sufficiency in foodgrains production is obsolete…

Yashwant Sinha, Union Finance Minister (BUSINESS STANDARD 250302)

94 % of the rice procurement is from Punjab, Haryana and AP while 81% of wheat is procured from Punjab, Haryana and UP. The rest of the 10 crore farmers in the country have to resort to distress sales… The pulses and oilseeds import bills have touched Rs 100 B.

Shanta Kumar, Union Food Minister (INDIAN EXPRESS 250302)

Considering that part of the food subsidy goes towards subsidizing the wheat exports to be used as cattle feed in sundry parts of the world, this scam has gone on for too long.

Editorial comment (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 040402)

Private monopolies (as planned in Delhi power distribution reforms) are patently unconstitutional; they abrogate fundamental rights and are anathema to democratic philosophy… All this will Dabholise the DVB… The manner in which huge guaranteed returns have been assured after shortlisting of bidders vitiates the entire exercise… the consumer will end up paying over 27% by way of annual return on equity during the next five years. There is hardly any competition as only three bidders are in fray for three circles… Two of the bidders have a track record of defaulting on payment to state owned entities by almost Rs 10 B each. Besides, if the Discoms reduce thefts beyond the agreed level, they can keep half the gains… Can a civilized society allow a policeman to retain 50% of the value of stolen goods recovered? This could tempt the policeman to declare an honest person a thief… this will lead to Orissa like fiasco…

Gajendra Haldea, head of the Centre for Infrastructure and Regulation, NCAER (THE TIMES OF INDIA 070302)

Inter-basin transfer of water was the only permanent solution to tackle drought and floods. [Will the minister reply if full potential of local water system has been realized in even one river basin in the country?]

Arjun Charan Sethi, Union Water Resources Minister (THE HINDU 170802)


FLOODS

Plan panel for new Flood CommissionThe working group on flood control for the 10th five-year plan has suggested that the govt. should set up an integral flood management commission to review the progress of the flood management programme and implementation of the National Flood Commission recommendations. It has recommended a combined central and state outlay of Rs 106.32 B to protect about 2.8 M Ha in the 10th plan. (BUSINESS STANDARD-D 030402)

Sudden Releases from Tajewala creates flooding Sudden release of water into Yamuna River from the Tajewala headworks on the Haryana UP borders without prior information to the villages along the river badly affects at least 50 villages every year, destroying crops and fertile land. This year the release also affected thousands of people staying in slums along the river in Delhi as the water level in Yamuna river suddenly rose without prior information. (RASHTIRYA SAHARA 060302, 070302 TRIBUNE 080302)

Villagers oppose another bundh Residents of more than dozen villages of the Mand area of Kapurthala in Punjab have said the construction of another proposed advance bundh to be built adjoining the Dhussi bundh by the drainage department should be stopped to save their land from floods. The Deputy Commissioner directed resurvey of the proposed bundh to be constructed from Darewal Bharona village in order to save more than 1 300 Ha of land from floods. (THE TRIBUNE 040402)

400 Ha destroyed due to TPS effluent About 400 Ha of agricultural land in Panipat district in Haryana have been flooded and destroyed as drain no 3 passing nearby have been silted up by the effluent from the Tau Devi Lal Thermal Power Station since last seven years. The drain has not been desilted for many years. (TRIBUNE 180402)

POLLUTION

SC okays GAP Phase-II The Supreme Court gave the green signal for the resumption of the Rs 2.5 B Ganga Action Plan Phase II, which was held up for some time by stay orders from courts. The Project includes five effluent treatment plants, designed to meet the requirements of Varanasi for the next 30 years. The National River Conservation Directorate pointed out to the Court that of the 240 M litres a day of sewage, only 80 M litres was being treated and the rest flowed untreated in to the Ganga. (BUSINESS STANDARD 230402)

Project to reduce river pollution launched Rs 33.29 B action plan for pollution reduction along stretches of 27 rivers, including the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Cauvery, has been launched. The Union Minister for Environment and Forests said that the impact of the scheme under the National River Conservation Plan in 152 towns in 16 states would visible after the work, which is to be completed by 2005. (THE HINDU-D 160402)

Yamuna Pollution  in Delhi While the Yamuna river traverse the 22 Km Delhi stretch of its 1,367 km long journey for Yamunotri to Allahabad, where it merges with the Ganga, it gets 80 % of its pollutants. About 1 800 M litres of untreated domestic waste and another 300 M litres of industrial waste ends up in the river daily. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 230402)

Environment Atlas CPCB and National Atlas & Thematic Mapping Org has brought out an Environmental Atlas of India. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 250302)

ISSUES ABOUT RIVERS

Supreme Court admits petition on Bheema waters The Supreme Court had admitted a public interest litigation, which has sought to ensure supply of water in the river for people to have access to their drinking water throughout the year. The court has issued notices to Karnataka, the Union Govt. and the Central Water Commission. The petitioner, the Bheema Nadi Neeru Rakshana Raithavarga Samithi contended that the Bheema river remained dry between Nov. and May every year since 1998. This caused hardship to 0.3 M people living in 134 villages on the banks of the Bheema in Karnataka, as they did not have access to water. This also caused adverse impact on the flora and fauna in the region and caused ecological imbalances in the river system. The petition alleged that the depletion of water was caused by Maharashtra as it was storing and utilising more than the quota allotted by Bachawat Tribunal. Farmers were very happy with what they called the first victory in their agitation. (THE HINDU 090402)

Indus Water Treaty review demand The J&K Assembly has called for a review of the Indus Water Treaty between the India and Pakistan so as to reduce the alleged losses being suffered by J and K since 1960, when the treaty was signed. According to discussion, when the treaty was signed the interests of J and K had not been kept in view.

Demand unjustifiedThe govt. should pay no heed to such demands. The proposition is dangerous, as it would legitimize counter calls for the bombing or sabotage of Bhakra-Pong and other Indian dams. The treaty permits India to formulate schemes for rural and urban water supply in J&K as far the three western rivers of Indus basin are concerned. Other non-consumptive uses are also permitted. The treaty allows India to build storages aggregating 3.60 M acre ft on the three western rivers in the J&K: 1.60 MAF for hydropower, 0.75 MAF for flood moderation and 1.25 MAF for general storage for non-consumptive uses, including power generation. The western rivers collectively have an assessed hydropower potential of 8825 MW at 60 % load factor. At the turn of the century, however, under 1400 MW has been harnessed, only 4 MW of this on the Indus itself. India is entitled to irrigate 0.54 M Ha from the three western rivers against which only about 0.324 M Ha are currently irrigated. One negative byproduct of the Indus Treaty was the callous disregard of R&R of the large numbers displaced by Mangla Dam on Jhelum in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. This caused thousands of Mirpuris to migrate to the UK in the 1960s. Pakistan now contemplates raising the height of the Mangla Dam, which needs watching. On the whole, the demand comes from megalomaniac politicians. (THE TRIBUNE 040402, 290402)

Ganga is changing its course The river Ganga, which used to flow along the Kanpur ghats about 50 years ago, started to change its course in 1960s and gradually drifted away toward Unnao and the main stream now flows about 9 km from the Bhairon ghat intake point in Kanpur. Efforts are being made by the Centre, the Uttar Pradesh govt. and various NGOs to bring back the Bhagirathi to the city banks and make it pollution free. An ambitious Rs 3 B Ganga Barrage project and movement for cleaning the river form part of these efforts. Recently, the State govt. had sought an assistance of Rs 3 B from the Japanese govt. for strengthening facilities of sewage and effluent treatment plants and for diversion of sewage drains. However, the mining of sand in the riverbed poses a major threat. (BUSINESS LINE-D 020402)

China to give Hydrological Data to India According to a recently signed India-China agreement, the three hydrological stations, all located along the Yarlung Zangbo (Brahmaputra) River, will offer hydrological data to India from June 1 to Oct 15. The forecasts will help cut losses caused by floods. (People's Daily 250402)

Bihar sanctions 1 B for GAP The Bihar Cabinet has approved a Rs 1 B proposal for work under the Ganga Action Plan of the Bihar State Water Board to be used for repair of sewerage plant and other works relating to GAP. (THE HINDU-D 070302)

Hotel owned by politician’s family fined Rs 1 M The Supreme Court found a hotel owned by the family of a senior political leader guilty of environment degradation and asked it to pay a fine of Rs 1 M as damages. Noted lawyer M.C. Mehta, had filed a suit against building a motel in Kullu on the banks of the Beas River in Himachal Pradesh. Following damages due to floods on Sept. 5, 1995, the hotel management attempted to divert the flow of Beas upstream from the hotel with total disregard of its impact on people or environment. The order referred to the report of the CPCB, which enumerated activities of Span Motels which "constituted callous interference with the natural flow of the river Beas, resulting in the degradation of the environment and which have interfered with the natural flow of the river.” The court had found in 1996 that Span Motels Private Limited owned a resort near the Beas and had encroached upon 30 000 square mts of protected forestland. The court has also held HP govt. guilty of “patent breach of public trust”. (IANS 150302, INDIAN EXPRESS 180302)

UNESCO and Green Cross International Join forces to avert Water Conflicts Mikhail Gorbachev, President of Green Cross International, and UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura signed a two-year agreement aimed at joining forces to help avert potential conflicts over the world's water resources, particularly the 261 river basins which extend over more than one country. The joint UNESCO/GCI initiative will contribute to the World Water Assessment Programme's first World Water Development Report, due to come out in time for the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, in March 2003. (www.greencrossinternational.net)

The state of Indus RiverKeti Bander in Pakistan, once a bustling city and important seaport, is now reduced to a tiny village of a few hundred inhabitants, who are deprived of all basic facilities. Drinking water is transported from distance of 75 kms. Local residents and experts attribute the problems of this region with the continuous decrease in the flow of fresh water in Indus.  Not a single drop of fresh water has flown in the delta downstream of Kotri barrage for last several years. About two-thirds of the population of this area is fisherfolk, depending on fishing for their livelihood. Now the fish resources are also depleting making earning of livelihood hard for these fishermen. After the construction of Sukkur Barrage and Indus Water Treaty in 1940 and 1960, respectively, Indus water was diverted to agriculture land, storage for reservoirs and for hydropower generation. On the one hand, flow of fresh water into the delta is stopped while on the other hand, agriculture; industrial as well as urban effluent of the entire country is being dumped into the Indus Delta. Presently, more than 2 500 cusses of Left Bank Out Fall Drain effluent comprising poisonous pesticides residues are thrown in the delta daily. (SUNGI Development Foundation-Pak 260302)

FOODGRAINS MANAGEMENT

Private Sector Foodgrains Storage proposal: Another Enron? The new private sector participation policy in foodgrains storage announced by the centre has all the trappings of another Enron. The private sector, invited to construct foodgrains storages of 2.1 MT on BOO basis, is guaranteed 100% capacity utilisation for a decade and 75% for another decade. Even if this means that the FCI godowns remain empty. In addition, a tax holiday for five years and a partial holiday for another five years. Not to mention heavy incentives for financial institutions putting money into the project. Not surprisingly, 65 companies including big names like Cargill, Reliance, Mitsubishi, L&T, etc have shown interest. Currently, says secretary food and civil supplies, around Rs. 3.5 B worth of foodgrains is lost annually in transit and storage. But the excess payouts to private sector would amount to Rs. 3.57 B per year for two decades! The FCI’s current annual carrying cost is Rs 2300 per tonne and the private sector will get Rs. 4000 per tonne, meaning thereby, Rs 8.4 B windfall for the private sector, exclusive of the tax benefits. Food ministry officials admit that the investment required would be Rs 30 B, roughly Rs 15 000 per tonne. The critics of the scheme rubbish it on two counts: first that it will create a mini Enron situation and second that the solution lies in feeding malnourished millions in stead of storing more and more. The food subsidy bill has gone up essentially because storage costs have gone up to Rs. 50 B per annum as the offtake of wheat from FCI has actually fallen since the introduction of targeted PDS in June 1997. (OUTLOOK 040302)

Leave it to Panchayats Many farmers feel the govt. should leave the business of storing grain to the village panchayats rather than opting for desperate measures like privatisation. This will lead to building of permanent assets in the villages. Farmers from Bhiwani (Haryana), Kalahandi (Orissa), Darbhanga (Bihar) and Banda (UP) believe this will be the best option. This will save transportation costs, and reduce losses, as farmers know how to store without losses.

Community Food Banks M S Swaminathan has suggested that a grid of community food banks should be set up. Green Revolution’s strategy of food security through increased production alone has clearly reached a dead end. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 270402 (Edit), INDIAN EXPRESS 180402)

Parliamentary committee criticizes foodgrains situation The Parliamentary Committee on Food, Civil Supplies and Public Distribution has said that lack of uniform procurement policy has led to distress sales in States such as Bihar, Gujarat, MP, UP and Orissa. It said NAFED should be asked to procure coarse grains. It is estimated that the transit and storage losses during 2000-01 were Rs 1.72 B and Rs 2.27 B respectively in addition to loss of Rs 2 M as thefts. About 0.2 MT of non-issuable foodgrains stagnating in godowns should be disposed off quickly.  The committee has strongly opposed the Planning Commission move to discontinue construction of small godowns of 2000 T capacity and has asked the ministry of food to pursue with the state govts. (THE HINDU 260402)

Court Stay on FCI Tenders FCI had brought out a tender on April 16 for selling “low quality” rice and wheat, to be closed on April 18! This when time required to fullfil the conditions require two days at the least. Smelling corruption, the Mumbai High Court gave a stay on the tender and have directed FCI to give minimum of 15 days time in the tenders. (RASHTRIYA SAHARA 270402)

Foodgrains related restrictions removedEffective from 170302, the central govt. has removed restrictions regarding buying, selling, storage, transportation, etc of wheat, rice/paddy, coarse grains, sugar, edible oilseeds and oils. The govt. adv. claimed: “This decision will facilitate farmers to get better prices for these items and the poor in all parts of the country to get foodgrains at reasonable prices”. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 230302)

Storage Costs are 42% of food subsidy The buffer subsidy as a percentage of food subsidy, a mere 12.5% in 1997-98 (Rs 9.37 B out of a total of Rs 75 B) had reached 35.2% (Rs 42.33 B of a total subsidy bill of Rs 120.10 B) in 2000-01 and then to 41.6% (Rs. 56.8 B out of Rs 136.7 B).  Thus, while the food subsidy rose by 82.27% from 1997-8 to 2001-02. The actual distribution subsidy, however grew only by 21.74% in the period as the buffer subsidy rose by an unbelievable 519%. The proposals lying before the finance ministry to reduce APL and BPL issue prices and raise quantum allocated to both groups was not approved.

The food subsidy was Rs 28.5 B in 1991-2. According to estimates, over 30% of the grains allotted for BPL families find their way to the open market. Even through TPDS was started in 1997, some 11 states and four UTs are yet to identify families below the poverty line.

The food subsidy presently includes purchase levies taxed by states on procurement. The amount involved is close to Rs 30 B annually. The centre now plans to make this amount part of MSP so that the states can levy purchase tax only at the expense of farmers and food subsidy comes down to that extent. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 080302 & 230402, BUSINESS LINE 300302)

India holds 33 % of the world wheat stocks, 25 % of rice The Global stocks of wheat are pegged at 152 MT, while the rice stocks are estimated to be 125.9 MT at the beginning of the new marketing year 2002-03. Wheat stocks held by the FCI are likely to be around 27 MT by March 31 2002 (expected to be 47 MT by May end). Rice stock is expected to reach 30 MT by Oct.

The food subsidy for 2002-03 is billed at Rs. 212.00 B, up from Rs. 136.75 B budgeted for 2001-02 and Rs. 176.12 B as per revised estimates. Removal of restrictions on new mills processing capacity has also been proposed in the budget. (BUSINESS LINE 01/03/02, THE ECONOMIC TIMES-D 06/03/02)

Foodgrains export Just a day after India became the seventh largest wheat exporter (5.025 MT exported between Nov.00 and March 02, the bulk quantity sold for animal feed abroad, though Union govt. advertisements in newspapers on 110402 claimed that India is now removing hunger from the world) in the world, the govt. has removed quantitative restrictions on the export of wheat, pulses and coarse grains to boost exports. The Economic Survey 2001-02 had noted that area under pulses and coarse cereals has fallen in comparison to 1980s. 4.2 MT wheat shipped out till date this year has almost all gone to Cargill as the main trader (Toepfer, also an MNC, being another), through STC, MMTC, Markfed, others. (THE HINDU 080302, BUSINESS STANDARD 050302, BUSINESS LINE 060302, THE ECONOMIC TIMES060302 & 290302)

Scam in Rice Exports? Traders are buying high quality (5% broken) rice from FCI at low price of Rs 5.65 per kg, sell it in open market at high rates and prepare bogus export deals. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 090402)

Export Subsidy While the support price for wheat is Rs 6100 per tonne, after adding transportation, storage and administrative costs, it becomes Rs 9000 per tonne. The exporters buy wheat from the govt. at Rs 4250 per tonne, which is 53% below the cost price. Exporters get white rice at Rs 5650 per tonne, almost 50% below the cost.

Transport subsidy for exports The Union Commerce Minister has announced transport subsidy on foodgrains moved from FCI godowns to the nearest port for export.

The new exim policy will further widen the gulf between the rich and the poor farmers. Only the recession-hit businesses and industries will be enthused to exploit the subsidies. The policy of the govt. is rendering the agrarian sector vulnerable to cheaper and highly subsidised foodgrain imports. Instead of squandering public money on a section of the exporters, the emphasis must be on benefiting the small and marginal farmers. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 130302 BUSINESS LINE 010402, 220402)

Foodgrains rot According to the Ministry of Food & Civil Supplies, over 250 000 tonnes of foodgrains have been damaged in FCI godowns due to inefficient procurement last year. The govt. has taken action against 82 officials of FCI in this regard. (RASHTRIYA SAHARA 020402)

PDS Price for APL cut again The Union cabinet announced reduction in the issue price for foodgrains for APL families by Rs 1 per kg for three months to reduce the foodgrains stock. Wheat would now be available at Rs. 5.1 per kg and rice at Rs 7.3 per kg. The scale of issue for the APL, the BPL and the Antyodaya households has been raised from 25 kg to 35 kg per house per month. PDS price for the non-poor consumers have now been reduced twice since July 2001. This two-stage reduction of cereal prices for the non-poor is final acknowledgement that the decision taken in March 2000 to sharply increase these rates was a colossal mistake. That decision, meant to reduce the food subsidy, actually ended up increasing the financial burden on the govt. (TRIBUNE 240302, 290302)

Food insecure population in south Asia on the Rise According to FAO, the number of food insecure people in South Asia today is 300 M, up from 288 M in 1991. (BUSINESS STANDARD 290402)

States oppose Central PlanPunjab, Haryana, Kerala and AP have expressed strong opposition to the proposed decentralised procurement system on grounds of bottlenecks in implementation. These states feel that preset system of centralised procurement would work well with some modifications and a proper network of roads and market places should precede a decendralised system. Otherwise farmers would continue to resort to distress sales and only traders would benefit. The procurement of rice from AP by FCI has gone up from 1.081 MT in 1971 to 7.1 MT in 2001-02. Decentralised procurement of foodgrains is now implemented in UP, MP and West Bengal. UP has threatened to withdraw from the scheme due to the problems encountered in its implementation. (THE TRIBUNE 240302, THE HINDU 100302)

AGRICULTURE

NO to Corporate Farming: Agriculture Minister Union Agriculture Minister has ruled out introduction of corporate farming. “We cannot allow corporate farming because it will lead to displacement of millions of farmers in the country,” he said. He said subsidies given to other sector far exceed those given to the agriculture sector. (BUSINESS LINE 210402)

Foodgrains Production The Agriculture ministry has put the likely foodgrains production at 211.17 MT in 2001-02 compared to 195.92 MT in 2000-01. Sugarcane production is likely to be 289.4 MT in 2001-02 compared to 299.2 MT in 2000-01. (BUSINESS STANDARD 060402)

Cut in farm sector outlay The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture has recommended that the budgetary allocation for the farm sector not be cut. In the 30th report, the committee has observed that, “continuously for years together, less than 50 % of the required amount is being allocated by the Planning Commission.” The committee said the Dept of Agriculture had sought an outlay of Rs 182.538 B for the 9th five year plan, but was provided Rs 78.137 B, only 43 % of the demand. Dring the 10th plan, as against a demand of Rs 250 B, the sector was given Rs 130 B, 52.8 % of the demand. Against the projected demand of Rs 51.64 B for 2002-03, the department was given Rs 21.67 B, only 41.96 % of the demand. (THE HINDU-D 280402)

Loan recovery in agriculture high According to National Institute of Bank Management, the loan recovery in agriculture is 66.8%, much higher than about 50% in other sectors. (BUSINESS STANDARD 230402)

New scheme for East IndiaThe centre has launched a new scheme "On-Farm Water Management for increasing crop production in East India" in all the districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Mizoram and Orissa besides 35 districts of East Uttar Pradesh and nine districts of W Bengal. An amount of Rs 150 M has been released during 2001-02 to NABARD as the share of the govt.’s assistance under the scheme. An allocation of Rs 115 M has been proposed during 2002-03. (PIB PR 120402)

MSP for Rabi crops The Central Cabinet hiked the minimum support price for wheat by Rs 10 per quintal to Rs 620. The Cabinet also hiked MSP for rapeseed and mustard, safflower, gram and masur by Rs 100 per quintal each. The Commission for Agricultural Cost and Price had recommended a freeze on MSP for wheat in order to encourage farmers to go for corp diversification.  (THE INDIAN EXPRESS-D 030402)

Chhatisgarh attempt at crop diversification To promote crop diversification, the state govt. has announced that free irrigation water given to any farmer willing to grow crop other than paddy and no water would be given to farmers growing paddy this summer and if paddy is found to be grown using canal irrigation, such farmers would be charged double water rates. (THE HINDU 040402)

SUGAR

Sugar Exports (= water exports) In 2001-02, by Oct. 2001 India has exported 1.042 MT of sugar valured at Rs 12.36 B compared to export of 0.331 MT in the previous year valued at Rs 4.28 B. (TRIBUNE 110402)

Bihar Sugar Industry In 1942-3, Bihar had 32 sugar units out of a total of 140 units across the country. Now Bihar has 10 units out of country’s total of 495 units. Then Bihar contributed 40% of national sugar production, compared to 2% now. Some of the reasons for the decline include water logging; poor transport, poor irrigation & poor power supply. (BUSINESS LINE 150402)

Sugar Decontrol The Sugar industry has welcomed the Union Finance Minister’s move cutting the levy obligation of the sugar industry as a step towards total decontrol. With mounting sugar stocks, supply being higher than demand & low prices in international market, sugar industry is facing a challenge. (BUSINESS LINE 010302)

India to stay in global sugar club The Union Cabinet decided that India should continue to be a member of the International Sugar Agreement 1992, which has been extended till 2003. Being the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar, India intends to increase its share in the global trade. India has been a member of ISA since its inception in 1937, first as importer till 1942 & as exporter since 1958. (BUSINESS STANDARD 030402)

Maharashtra sugar coops to set new trend Some 30 Sugar Cooperatives (20% of total units) in Maharashtra are now moving towards reducing the proportion of sugar they produce and instead, opting for conversion into ethanol to a substantial extent. Ethanol is currently being touted as the best means to reduce import bill of petroleum products. (THE HINDU-D 230402)

India, Brazil in Technology sharing pact for Ethanol India signed an MoU with Brazil for sharing the know-how to blend ethanol with petrol or diesel. According to the Union Minister for Petroleum, India has started 5 % blending of ethanol in petrol in phases, beginning with eight sugarcane growing states in the first phase. In the second phase, blended petrol would be made available throughout the country. In the third phase, ethanol content in petrol would be increased to 10 %. (THE HINDUSTAN TIMES-D 090402)

POWER OPTIONS

The great power robberyAccording to a study done by Prayas Energy Group large scale power theft is rampant among industrial consumers who avail of high tension and extra high tension supply. The study suggests that the ambitious objective of 100 % metering should be deferred in favour of more pragmatic, cost effective and manageable solution, namely metering HT/EHT consumers immediately. Yet policy makers tutored by their reform consultants, would have us believe that theft occurs only in rural areas and among urban slum dwellers. In order to target thefts, they have been zealously advising the SEB/utilities to undertake “Total Energy Audit” and install 100 % metering – a virtual impossibility in such a vast country with several million connections. The study based on data submitted by the utilities to their respective regulatory commission, shows that the industries using HT and EHT lines are involved in large-scale thefts. Even a small percentage of losses in HT/EHT supply can mean a substantial loss of revenue to the utilities, owing to the large quantum of power consumed by industry. Prayas studied states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Karnataka. (Prayas study; FRONTLINE 290302)

Out of Rs 1127 B worth of electricity produced in the country, only 55% that is electricity worth Rs 620 B is billed and only 41% that is Rs 460 B is collected, says Union Power Minister. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 260402)

Posh colonies at the top in power theft The DVB data shows that the volume of power theft is much more in posh colonies than in the lower and middle class colonies. DVB’s Enforcement Wing says the power theft in one posh house in south Delhi equals that in 500 houses in resettlement colonies. In March this year, out of 546 detected cases of power theft, 109 were from the posh colonies where the percentage of total power theft came to around 53 %. In Sept 2001, residents of posh colonies were involved in 75 % of the total power theft caught. (THE HINDUSTAN TIMES-D 270302, 200402)

Incentive for efficiency In the new conditions under Memorandum of Agreement that Union Power Minister wants to sign with the reforming states, if the SEB is able to improve its revenue generation without adding to capacity or tariff hikes, it will be eligible for a matching grant from the Centre. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 110302)

Bhakra Power Capacity Up Renovation has led to increase in capacity of Bhakhra Right Bank Power House from 660 MW to 785 MW. The original plant with 600 (120 X 6) MW was upgraded to 660 MW in 1980 through the help of the original Russian firm. The cost of the renovation was Rs 9.2 B, i.e. Rs 7 M per mw.  The work on upgradation of the five units of Left Bank Power House, remaining one unit of Ganguwal and Kotla Power Houses and two units at Pong Dam, would be taken up during the 10th five year plan to add 108 MW capacity.

R&M Potential of 20 000 MWAccording to Union Power Minister, through R&M of existing power projects, an additional capacity of 20 000 MW can be added at a cost  of Rs 100-120 B. MD of Powerplant Performance Improvement Ltd, a 50:50 joint venture promoted by BHEL and Siemens AG says, “There is 20 000 MW of installed capacity out there locked up in aged and rundown plans which are delivering anywhere from zero to 50% of their nameplate capacity. Much of this capacity can be brought back to a PLF of 75% or above through a process of rehabilitation. There are many advantages of such renewal. Execution would be quicker. Investment needed was just Rs 10 to 15 M per MW as compared to Rs 40-60 M for new plants, and social and environmental costs would be lower. That this is possible is shown in the renewal results of Durgapur and Kothangundem plant. (TRIBUNE 170302, THE HINDU 250402)

Kerala Plan Panel for Small Hydro The State Planning Board has called for a special priority for tapping the state’s small hydel sources. (BUSINESS LINE 080302)

CFL Potential in Kerala A study done by the Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology reveals that Compact Fluorescent Lamps can be an important component of load side management to substantially bring down peak hour power requirement. If half a million (out of total of 4.5 M) households in Kerala replace 5 bulbs of 100 W by CFLs of 18 W each, then the annual saving in energy would be 292 MU and would be equivalent to a generating capacity of 73 MW. The recently approved state renewable energy policy has made the use of CFLs mandatory in new hospitals, hotels, govt. offices and offices of PSUs. (BUSINESS LINE 010402)

Policy on renewables The Minister of state for non-conventional sources of energy announced that a draft national renewable energy policy is at the final stage of formulation and will be announced shortly. He also stressed the need for incorporating a provision on the electricity regulation act for making it compulsory to produce minimum 10% of the total generation capacity from renewable energy sources. He has urged the finance minister to retain 100% depreciation enjoyed by the renewable energy sector and not bring it down to 60% as proposed in the budget. (BUSINESS LINE 230302)

Gharat potential Some half a million multi purpose gharat (micro hydro) are on the verge of destruction for lack of govt. attention. These can be used to produce some 2500 MW of power at the rate of 5 KW per gharat. The govt. seems to have no definite policy about sustaining and upgrading the gharats. By proper repair and upgradation, the gharats can also add about 20% to the irrigated area in Uttaranchal. (RASHTRIYA SAHARA 190302)

Call to keep watermills running Dr Anil Joshi of Jalandolan has expressed shock over the Uttaranchal govt.’s move to demolish some watermills and cover the canals in a bid to widen the roads in Dehradun. There were about 70 000 watermills in the state out of which only half are functional and there is need to systematically rejuvenate, repair and modernize to turn the watermills into micro hydel stations. (THE HINDU 270402)

Cogeneration potential As per the draft Sugar Development Fund (amendment) bill 2002 placed in Loksabha, an estimated 3500 MW power can be generated by the sugar factories with Bagasse as the feedstock. Till now only around 212 MW generation capacity has been installed and 245 MW capacity is under implementation. (BUSINESS LINE 22/03/02)

Energy saving potentialIndia’s energy saving potential is estimated at around 30 000 MW of which 15 000 MW is in the industrial sector alone. (BUSINESS LINE 230402)

Bhoruka plansBhoruka Power Corp, a leading small hydro developer plans to invest Rs 3 B in the next 30 months to increase its installed capacity from present 33 MW and 22 MW under implementation to 100 MW. It plans to access debt fund to the tune of Rs 2.1 B from IREDA, IDBI and IDFC. (INDIAN EXPRESS 110302)

Small power projects 201 sites for small HEPs with combined installed capacity of 1207.27 MW have been identified in J&K. As per the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources, about 4096 sites have been identified so far across the country for generating 10171 MW. The broad estimates of potential available from SHP up to 25 MW has been assessed at 15 000 MW. In 1989, when the subject of small hydro up to 3 MW capacity was transferred to MNES, the total installed capacity from SHP projects was 63 MW which has now risen to 219 MW. The MNES has set goal of 2000 MW capacity addition from SHP by 2012. (DAILY EXCELSIOR 200302)

Wind-diesel project in Bengal The World’s third and Asia’s first wind-diesel hybrid project has been inaugurated in Sagar Islands in the Sundarnabs of W Bengal. The Rs 60 M project is being implemented by the W Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency in two phases with assistance from the Canadian govt., which has given around Rs 15 M of the Rs 20 M cost of the first phase. The remaining funding is coming from the MNES and the State govt. The project has an initial capacity of 175x2 kWh using the diesel mode and 110 kWh of wind power capacity. (BUSINESS LINE 040402)

Plan to add 6 000 MW wind power India plans to add 6 000 MW to its wind power capacity over the next decade. With the present level of wind power installed capacity of over 1 500 MW, India is among the top five countries in the world. The Minister of State said that already over 3 400 MW installed capacity is based on renewable energy sources and India has plans for capacity addition of 10 000 MW from renewables by the year 2012. India ranks first in biomass gasification. In the field of solar photovoltaic, India ranks fifth and in biogas application India ranks second in the world. (PIB PR 020402)

REC, IDBI to fund small power projects REC and the IDBI are putting together a scheme to finance small power projects. The plan envisages funding power plants of about 25 MW, each of which would cost about Rs 1B to 1.2 B for completion. IDBI has alone cancelled sanctions to about 15 large power projects for failure to achieve financial closure. (BUSINESS LINE-D 160302)

POWER

Many questions as BSES chief becomes Union Power Secretary“The issue is not one of bringing a public or private sector man at the helm. It is a question of having a power secretary coming from a group which has serious power ambitions and which could create conflict of interests. Everybody knows that BSES is part of Reliance Group”, says an economist. Today, BSES is a fully integrated power juggernaut involved in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. What’s more, it is at the forefront of any bid, which spells power. (BUSINESS STANDARD 130402)

Tenth Plan TargetsAccording to a piece penned by Union Power Minister Suresh Prabhu, 46 939 MW capacity is to be added during the Tenth Five year plan (2002-07) and 61 000 MW in the eleventh plan. In the tenth plan, 28 000 MW would be in thermal sector (12 000 MW of this in central sector, out of which NTPC share to be 9 000 MW), 1330 MW from Nuclear plants and the rest from hydropower. In Prabhu’s scheme of things, unfortunately, energy conservation efforts, demand side management and setting up a National grid figure much lower than huge capacity addition programs. Contrary to Power Minister’s earlier statements that T&D sector should get at least same (it should be higher if we consider the backlog of investment requirement in T&D sector even for existing generation capacity) fund allocation as generation sector, the envisaged allocation for T&D is much lower. The tenth plan working group has estimated that the overall fund requirement for power sector would be Rs 5.66 T, out of which Rs 3.5 T would be for capacity addition, Rs 1.5 T for T&D, Rs 0.43 T for rural electrification and Rs 0.12 T for renovation and modernisation.

Power Secretary R V Shahi says, “In fact, in the last 3 years, the MoP has acknowledged that reforms on the distribution side would have been more fruitful than laying over emphasis on the generation side”. But where is the reflection of this admission in financial allocation?

Huge short falls in Ninth Plan targetsWhile 16422.6 MW (53.77% of target of 30 538 MW) capacity addition was achieved in eighth plan, 20 525 MW (51% of target of 40 245.2 MW) was achieved in just concluded ninth plan. While state sector has achieved 84% of the target and added 9064 MW, central sector has achieved 40% of target and private sector 29%. MoP claims that the better performance in the state sector was largely on account of the accelerated generation and supply programme, under which 5144 MW (out of total of 5219 MW in all sectors, the remaining 75 MW being in the central sector) was added in the state sector during the ninth plan. (INDIAN EXPRESS 110402, THE ECONOMIC TIMES 230402, 280402, BUSINESS LINE 290402)

Draft Power Tariff policy The tariff policy drafted by the MoP and to be finalised in a month, says mobilisation of resources for fresh investments should be a factor guiding the tariff setting process. The draft policy has noted that regulators need to determine operational norms and permissible costs while setting tariffs and these should be uniform for the same category of projects. Central utilities like NTPC could derive mileage from the clause because the main argument against the CERC ABT tariff was that their capacity addition programme would be affected if the CERC order were implemented. NTPC has also been objecting to differential treatment to its plants under the ABT order. Other stipulations in the draft policy will help CERC in encouraging efficiency. The draft says the principles of the common minimum tariff to cover 50 % of the cost of supply in three years need to be implemented at the earliest. Tariff based bidding should be the route for the development of new power projects in the private sector. A higher rate of return in the initial transition period for private distribution companies to encourage tackling of distribution losses is justified. Where tariffs are not determined through a competitive process, these will have to be determined by regulatory commissions as provided for in the ERC act 1998. (BUSINESS STANDARD-D 160402)

Fixing power tariff is policy matter The Supreme Court has ruled, “Fixing electricity tariff (by the regulatory commission) and providing for cross subsidy is essentially a matter of policy and normally a court would refrain from interfering with a policy decision unless the power exercised is arbitrary or ex facie bad in law.” The Bench upheld the decision of the AP ERC in fixing electricity tariff for the year 2000-01. (THE HINDU 130302)

Captive Generation to be Taxed in AP Andhra Pradesh CM hinted at a move to levy duty and wheeling charges on captive generation plants in AP (1800 MW) as a move to lure them back to grid. As a direct result, five of the six ferro alloy units in the state are facing closure as they find the new duty unbearable. The policy goes against the MoP’s Captive Power Policy circulated in July 2001.

At least six states (Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Bihar) have responded favorably to centre’s proposal to liberalise captive power capacities. Captive power installed capacity has been rising at 8% per annum over the last two years. MP and Maharashtra are most reluctant to liberalise captive power plants. (BUSINESS LINE 260302, THE HINDU 020402, INDIAN EXPRESS & BUSINESS STANDARD 110402)

BOT projects in power generation in KeralaThe KSEB has approved in principle BOT policy mainly for small hydel projects and captive power plants under power purchase agreement. (PTI 300302)

CCEA clears one time settlement of power dues The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has cleared the MoP’s proposal on one time settlement scheme of the Rs 435 B outstanding of SEBs to Central PSUs as per the recommendations of the Ahluwalia committee. It also agreed to extend the cut-off date for tabulation of dues to Sept 30, 2001 and waive 60% of interest amount of Rs 157.46 B. The scheme, which envisages the issue of tax-free bonds through RBI at an interest rate of 8.5 %, will mean that SEBs will have to function on commercial lines. So far ten states have come forward for implementing the scheme. Where fresh defaults in payment exceed 90 days from the date of billing, the Centre would recover those dues by adjusting them against transfers due to the states from the Centre. (BUSINESS STANDARD-D 250302, 220402 THE HINDUSTAN TIMES-D & ECONOMIC TIMES 250302)

Inadequate grid causes power crisis in Delhi The Power Grid Corporation in its recent report has said that the city was having more than 1 000 MW of additional power available, but the DVB’s existing capacity was unable to take it. At times the DVB resorts to power cuts even when it has enough power, because of the poor infrastructure. On April 25, on the one hand, DVB had to ask its Badarpur TPS to reduce production from 650 MW to 507 MW (and similarly for other power plants) as Board was unable to distribute the available power and frequency had shot upto 51.07. (THE HINDU-D 01/04/02, RASHTRIYA SAHARA 260402)

DVC dues The DVC’s dues amounted to Rs 38.36 B, with the Jharkhand SEB being the biggest defaulter with unpaid bills of Rs 12.54 B. The total amount receivable from the PSUs was Rs 1.75 B.  CESC with an outstanding of Rs 790 M was the largest defaulter in the private sector. Now the DVC is hopeful of getting Rs 30.83 B of its dues recovered through the securitisation scheme of the SEBs.

DVC plansDamodar Valley Corporation is planning to convert its power stations in to separate profit centres and bring power generation and distribution under two strategic business units. It has undertaken an ambitious plan to add 6210 MW thermal capacity at an investment of Rs 260 B during the 10th plan. The ten outdated generating units out of a total of 17 will be renovated and mordenised at an estimated cost of Rs 13.64 B adding 1092 MW to the DVC’s present generation of 1100-1200 MW. (THE HINDU-D 190402 BUSINESS LINE-D 110402)

Delhi Cabinet rejects bids for DVB discoms The Delhi Cabinet rejected the bids submitted for the DVB’s distribution companies by Tata Power and BSES. The govt. has said that the bids cannot be accepted in its present form as the targets for T&D loss reduction are too low and bids have riders and conditionalities, which should not have been there. The govt. has authorised the core committee of officers to “explore all other options”. The Chief Minister accused the companies of forming a cartel in the bidding process. Delhi Power Minister slammed the “black mailing tactics” of the two bidding companies. One of the conditions imposed by the bidders was they should get guaranteed 16 % return for the next 30 years. Delhiites are likely to pay 8-10% higher power tariffs once DVB is privatised.

A petition has been filed by an IAS officer in Delhi High Court challenging the DVB privatisation move.

At a latter date, the privatisation move was through after some fresh negotiations. How this could be possible after the serious charges leveled as mentioned above is a mystery. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 110302 INDIAN EXPRESS 060402 THE HINDU & THE ECONOMIC TIMES 120402)

No tax on inter-state sale of power The Supreme Court has held that power produced in one state and distributed to other states could not be taxed by the state where it was generated. (BUSINESS STANDARD-D 240402)

MoP sets up IT thrust group The MoP has created an IT technology group to look at the possibilities of using IT in boosting efficiency in the power sector. The potential of IT in the power sector is estimated at $ 40 B over the next ten years. (BUSINESS STANDARD 220402)

Loss due to low quality of coal According to a report by CAG, due to supply of poor quality of coal, Orissa Power Generation Corp has suffered loss of Rs 478.2 M. The quality test has not been done by the OPGC before using of coal. (RASHTRIYA SAHARA 210402)

Court orders CAG investigation in equipment purchase The Delhi High Court has ordered CAG to investigate the purchase of equipment for the controversial Timarpur Power Plant, which was to produce electricity from the municipal waste. The equipment has been purchased from Denmark based company at the cost of Rs 200 M in 1987. Till date the electricity generation could not been started, while Rs 20 M has been spent in the name of maintenance. India lost a case against the Danish company in the World Court.  (RASHTRIYA SAHARA 260402)

Exporters to get Power Subsidy The new Exim policy allows exporters to set up captive power plants and in the process claim rebate on fuel costs so that energy input cost of exported items is comparable to international levels. (BUSINESS STANDARD 010402)

N Power too expensiveElectricity Boards are finding the power from the nuclear power stations too expensive and are not keen on purchasing power from NPC. CMD of NPC agreed there was a problem. (THE HINDU 040402)

UP Power Crisis The power blackout faced by UP in the first week of April is not due to non-availability of power, but due to financial sickness of SEB. (THE HINDU 040402)

Orissa to supply 250 MW to Karnataka Gridco is to enter into agreement with KPTCL for supply of 250 MW of power at the rate of Rs. 2.35 at Jaipur (Orissa) busbar. The existing power transmission facility has capacity to wheel only about 150 MW from eastern grid to southern grid. (BUSINESS LINE 160402)

Orissa stops power supply to APOrissa had been supplying 150 MW of power to AP since seven years. It has now been stopped as the agreement has been terminated. NTPC has reduced power supply to Orissa due to mounting dues. (RASHTRIYA SAHARA 170402)

Orissa Reforms fails? Power sector reform that began under the World Bank loan six years ago with much publicity has not helped greater recovery of bills. Billing remains at 54% and collection 77% of the amount billed.

BSES units in mess The financial institutes including UTI, GIC, LIC and IDBI, which together hold 36% equity in BSES, are worried that the three BSES distribution units in Orissa are in mess and are not preparing balance sheets. An IDFC study in Dec. 2001 says that the blame squarely lies with BSES as due diligence was not done. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 200402, THE HINDUSTAN TIMES 290402)

No reduction in losses in Rajasthan Since the RSEB was unbundled in July 2000, the companies have not been able to reduce their losses significantly, despite the steep hike in power tariff in April 2001. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 190402)

POWER FINANCE NEWS

Stalled IPPs Of the 40 IPPs that were expected to come up, 31 projects with a cumulative capacity of 18 715 MW are stuck with no likelihood of achieving financial closure according to Crisis Management Group of MoP. The rest of 9 projects (6 of them from AP) with capacity of 4 287 MW have reasonable chance of achieving financial closure over the next year. (BUSINESS STANDARD 150302)

Union Budget impacts The allocation under APDP in the Union budget proposed for 2002-03 has been increased from Rs 15 B in 2001-02 to Rs 35 B and the scheme has been renamed as Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme. The following day, the shares of electrical equipment manufacturing companies like Crompton Greaves, Siemens, BHEL and ABB surged ahead in Mumbai Stock Exchange. Two Mumbai based power utilities BSES and Tata Power are expected to gain significantly from the Budget 2002. “We will definitely benefit from this,” said R V Shahi, CMD of BSES. (Shahi, incidentally, became Union Power Secretary a few days later. Reliance Industries hold 37% (reached that level just a week before Shahi took over as Power Secretary) stake in BSES and maintains that BSES spearheads all its interest in power sector.)

APDP disbursement only 28%Disbursement under APDP, touted as major reform initiated under power ministry, for 2001-02 has been just Rs 4.25 B from the provision of Rs 15 B in the budget estimates. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 020302, BUSINESS STANDARD 020302, 060302, 180402)

FIs target Spectrum IPPFinancial Institutions led by IDBI are moving in to change the management of Spectrum Power Generation in AP, India’s first fast track IPP to go on stream, as empowered by a Supreme Court judgement. (THE ECONOMIC TIMES 220302)

ADB loans for Gujarat The MoP said that the govt. has received two loans from the ADB for its power sector reforms programme in Gujarat. The policy programme loan for reforms and restructuring in the power sector totalling $ 150 M will be released by this year-end, while the project loan totalling $ 200 M will be come by mid-2005. (DAILY EXCELSIOR 250402)

ADB loan for Kerala The ADB is to provide a loan of $ 500 M in two installments. The first installment of the 300 M for fiscal reforms would be disbursed this year. The disbursement of $ 200 M for power sector reforms was slated for the next year. (THE HINDU 300402)

Power projects in MP The MPSEB will spend about Rs 31 B on strengthening the T&D system during the 10th five-year plan. The board will get financial assistance from ADB and the NABARD. The PFC has sanctioned Rs 14 B loan for the 500 MW 5th unit of the proposed Sanjay Gandhi Thermal Power House in Sahdol district. The total cost of the unit has been estimated at Rs 20 B.  The ADB is likely to provide Rs 920 M aid to the MPSEB during 2002-05. (BUSINESS LINE 060302 BUSINESS STANDARD 220302)

Projects in North EastUnion Power Minister has launched APDP in Mizoram and Nagaland. He said that three circles viz., Guwahati, Jorhat and Dibrugarh have been brought under the APDP. He laid the foundation stone of the Rs 17.9 B gas-based power project at Monarchak in West Tripura District. (ASSAM TRIBUNE 030302, 040302 & SENTINEL 030302)

ENVIRONMENT

Law Commission to study Environment Laws Following the Supreme Court request in Dec. 2000, the Law Commission will be reviewing the whole range of environmental legislation in the country with a view to consolidate and codify. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 220302)

AP govt. to relax Environment laws In an attempt to improve the investment climate, PwC has suggested major changes in the EPA 1986. While the Act provides for multiple and surprise inspections, the govt. plans to introduce a system of common inspections under all pollution laws only once a year and surprise inspections in exceptional cases. (BUSINESS STANDARD 220302)

HP assembly for change in forest act The Himachal Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution urging the centre to amend the Indian Forest Conservation Act to empower the state govt. to grant permission to use forest land for development activities. (TRIBUNE 010302)


WE AWAIT YOUR RESPONSES

I liked the piece on Uchangi Dam (Update 3). It is important to highlight such experiences as examples of positive approaches to resolving conflicts arising from water projects. Good luck.

Prof. A Vaidyanathan, Madras Institute for Development Studies, Chennai

Thank you very much for sending us issues on Update on Dams, Options and Related issues. We are finding this informative and we wish to continue to receive for the benefits of our students and faculty.

Prof Arun Kumar, Head, Alternate Hydro Energy Centre, IIT, Roorkee

Update is an excellent publication fully packed with information required in our conservation movement. I wish you all the success.

VS Vijayan, Director, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Mumbai

The UPDATE is quite appropriate, and it comes with a ‘perspective’, which I feel is very important. Once you go over each issue, definitely one would feel that one is learning the 'actuals' since at one place and at one go, it gives information from a broad spectrum of sources. Importantly, we get a national picture, which is missing, in most of the publications.

 

However, I feel the layout, the colour, and other aspects need to be made more attractive. The Update has to lie on the top of the pile. You can also add your viewpoint or other viewpoint on current issues. We need a short essay or comment on water sector in India. I liked the last pages in both the issues, about the World Bank projects and data on projects.

D Narasimha Reddy, Executive Director, Centre for Resource Education, Hyderabad


SPECIAL REPORT

KARNATAKA’S BLUFF: THE MAHADAYI DAMS

On Fool’s Day, the National Water Resources Council chaired by the Prime Minister adopted the NWP 2002. As far as Karnataka is concerned, the PM’s speech could not be more perfectly timed! For years, the State’s decision makers have fooled around with its natural resources, particularly its rivers. This time it’s a game not everyone wants to play.

Pursued with increasing intensity since 1998, Karnataka’s latest obsession is the resurrection of a project dreamt up in the early eighties - the Mahadayi Diversion Project, in Belgaum district of North Karnataka. However neighbouring Goa has opposed the plan and with good reason. Originating in a profusion of over 30 streams in the jungles of the Western Ghats at Degaon village of Belgaum, the Mahadayi runs a total length of over 80 kms with a catchment of 2008 sq kms of which 445 sq kms is within Karnataka. It crosses rainforests and the Sahyadri crestline to enter Goa as the celebrated Mandovi – Goa’s lifeline and main inland waterway, and finally meets the Arabian Sea at Panjim.

 

Three Goa-Karnataka meetings with the Central Water Commission to facilitate a decision on the project have ended in a stalemate each time. The latest meeting with the CWC held on the 27 March 2002 resulted in an adjournment till June.

The rationale for the Mahadayi Diversion Scheme is to salvage from blunder Karnataka’s the Malaprabha Dam at Naveelteerth (there are more dams down stream!) on the Malaprabha River – an east flowing tributary of the River Krishna. This dam was designed to meet 90% drinking water needs and 10% irrigation needs. Now, this proportion has been reversed with the dam catering largely to water guzzling sugarcane instead. The fact that the Malaprabha Dam’s capacity was an over estimation by a whooping 36%, has been exposed. It has a capacity of 47 TMC but receives only 30 TMC and has filled to capacity only 3 times in the last 25 years! The absurdity is compounded by the fact that it looses 7.8 TMC (26%) of water from leakages for close to a decade now as the Minister himself revealed to the press!

The Minister’s fantasy project on the Mahadayi involves the construction of six diversion dams with a total length of 1.6 km, 6.4 kms of tunnels through forested ridges and 3.5 km of open channels. Consolidated figures of areas lost to submergence for the entire project: 1720 Ha of forestland, with an additional 400 Ha of agricultural land. Aside from destroying the entire Mahadayi and the ecological wealth around it, just what this ‘Malaprabha Cover-up Scheme’ foretells for Goa’s Mandovi is anybody’s guess.

 

Ironically this project has been sited in the finest stretch of the Western Ghats. There exists a plethora of communication between the Ministry of Environment and Forests at the Centre and the Karnataka State Govt. on the need to protect exactly this region. The final outcome of this exchange and dialogue was a clear directive from the Centre, followed by a decision of top Forest and Wildlife officials of the State to declare the region as the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Mahadayi Valley is the habitat of the Wroughton’s Freetailed Bat recorded nowhere else in the world but in the Barapedi cave of Talewadi a totally evolved grassland ecosystem. This species is listed in the IUCN Red List of Critically Endangered Species. The Theobald’s Tomb Bat is another species found 2 kms away at Krishnapur, which is its third only home in India. Such close proximity of species’ sites is an indication of the rich biodiversity of Mahadayi valley. The Mahadayi Dams will be definite violations of the highest environmental and wildlife laws of the country. Specifically, neither Forest Clearance nor environmental clearances have been obtained. The affected Panchayats have recorded their opposition to this project. Information on the project is well - concealed. Mandatory Public hearings have not been conducted, and NEERI’s Environment Impact Assessment Report is nowhere to be found. Lamentably the Karnataka Irrigation Minister continues to his claim of having ‘obtained’ all the required environmental clearances.

Leading environmental organisations including the WWF, IUCN, BNHS, etc have strongly advocated legal protection for

this region. In Sept. 2000, a Committee appointed by the MoEF identified an extensive list of criterion to declare regions ‘Ecologically Sensitive Areas’ as per provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act. The contiguous forests of this region fulfill at least ten of the thirteen criteria when it takes fulfillment of just one criterion to merit such declaration!

Meanwhile the NWP2002 is being criticized extensively. What about the longstanding protests rising from the forests and villages like Nerse, Ashoknagar, the latter being victims of double displacement – first being oustees of the Hidkal Dam. The message to the Centre is that as far as the serious action for safeguarding the country’s life giving ecological resources is concerned, every day is Fool’s Day for the merry State of Karnataka.

About the Authors: Nyla Coelho and Aarthi Sridhar are members of the Sahyadri Ecologically Sensitive Area (SESA) Group