Himanshu Thakkar

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India is facing a major water crisis and a number of water sector challenges remain unaddressed even today.

India is on the brink of a major water crisis. With drought looming over the southern and western parts of the country, the existing water resources are in peril. Rivers are getting more polluted, their catchments, water-holding and water-harvesting mechanisms are deteriorating and groundwater levels are depleting at an alarming rate.

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A group of activists have urged that the Inter Ministerial Group on issues related to river Ganga be disbanded

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MoEF, which holds the mandate of safeguarding country's environment, has given a completely unjustifiable wildlife clearance to the 1750 MW Demwe Lower Hydroelectric dam on the Lohit river in Arunachal Pradesh (http://www.moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Demwe_Lower_Hydroelectric_project.pdf), in face of severe opposition from civil society, experts across country and all the independent members of National Board for Wildlife. This shocking decision has come at the heels of one more such clearance given by MoEF to 300 MW Alkananda project in Uttarakhand, which has been rejected twice by FAC and given a negative recommendation by WII.

Guest Post : Parineeta Dandekar and Himanshu Thakkar

With decisions like these, MoEF is proving that it is incapable to stand up against the tools used by the hydropower lobby even when overwhelming evidence points that impacts are unacceptably severe and even if some of the most threatened ecosystems are about to be destroyed.

The Demwe Lower project is the last dam on the Lohit river mainstem, which already has 12 dams planned on the entire river.

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This three day dialogue workshop on 'Mainstreaming river basin planning' held from 9th to 11th August 2011 in New Delhi intended to bring together activists involved in dam movements and other social and environmental movements, civil society groups, experts in water resources management, environment, river basin planning, officials from all the relevant ministries and departments and others concerned. Selected invitees from South Asian countries were also invited for sharing their views on transboundary issues.

Map of the Teesta basin showing the various planned dams

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India has a large number of technological, management and institutional options. What is needed is the political will to put systems into place to make it happen

This paper by Himanshu Thakkar published in the journal Development looks at the daunting challenges that future water demand places on India and the possible solutions to address these problems. The challenges that the paper highlights includes:

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Central Information Commission (CIC) rejects Central Water Comission (CWC) stand on keeping the backwater level study secret, orders CWC to disclose the Almatti study in public interest

 


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This photo essay by SANDRP shows the violations of environment norms by 4 large Hydro-electric projects in Himachal Pradesh, regarding muck disposal and freshwater flows in rivers.

 

Download the photo essay:

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Firstly, the definition of the Wetlands in the rules does not include Rivers and floodplains which are included under wetlands under the Ramsar convention on Wetlands that India is signatory to.

SANDRPOn the occasion of the World Wetlands Day 2011, while we welcome the notification of Wetland (Conservation and Management) rules 2010 by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on Dec 2, 2010, we would like to bring to the attention of the Minister and the Ministry that the rules suffer from some basic flaws, due

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Discussing the Chinese dam and hydropower projects on the shared rivers, including in the Brahmaputra basin on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s forthcoming India visit or underscoring the issue?

Forwarded to the Portal by: Himanshu Thakkar
Article and Image Courtesy: SANDRP
Author: Himanshu Thakkar

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s forthcoming India visit (15-17 Dec 2010) provides another useful opportunity for India to be firm and forthright with China on India’s concerns about Chinese dam and hydropower projects on the shared rivers, including in the Brahmaputra basin. The importance of this issue cannot be underscored considering that this issue has been raised in the Parliament several times, even the Prime Minister has had to make clarifications in the recent past, the people and governments of several states, including Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have been agitated about this. India’s Planning Commission, Environment, Water Resources and Power Ministries have also been raising these concerns.

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An open letter to the Minister of Environment and Forestry demanding transparency in the Polavaram project undertaken by the government

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From:
Himanshu Thakkar
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People,
c/o 86-D, AD block, Shalimar Bagh,
Delhi,

To: Shri Jairam Ramesh
Union Minister of State for Env and Forests (IC), New Delhi

Respected Sir,

I have just seen your letter dated Aug 18, 2010 to Orissa Chief Minister on the aboves subject, uploaded yesterday on MEF website.

  1. Your letter says that the Forest Clearance has been given to the Polavaram Project on July 28, 2010 is subject to the condition, "... no submergence and displacement of people including STs take place in Orissa and Chhattisgarh...". However, this condition is in complete contradiction with the environment clearance given by your ministry on Oct 25, 2005, which says in para 2, "Total 1,93,35 persons are likely to be affected by this project, out of that 1,75,275 persons in Andhra Pradesh and 6,316 persons from Orissa and 11,766 are from Chattisgarh." It is clear the condition of no submergence and displacement on Orissa and Chhattisgarh, stated in your letter, in the Tribal Development Ministry's condition, and in the forest clearance letter is in complete contradiction with the environment clearance given by you. One of them have to be cancelled due to this contradiction, we would like to know, which one would be cancelled.

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