Skip to main content

India's anti-dam groups "rope in" Copenhagen collective to insist: Big dams are obsolete, anti-environment

By Our Representative
In a sharp bid to bring in international pressure, the National Alliance of Peoples' Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of grassroots organizations across India, has organized a high-profile seminar to “examine” whether big dams are obsolete. The well-known world body campaigning against big dams, Beyond Copenhagen Collective, will be sponsoring it.
Other groups which will be participating in the seminar are well-known advoocacy groups such as Delhi Solidarity Group, Matu Jansangathan, Lokmaitri, and Manthan Adhyan Kendra. Titled “Are Dams Obsolete in Modern India?: Dams for Power and Water Management: Experience, Justice and Sustainability”, the seminar will be held in Indore on September 29-30, 2016.
Announcing the decision to hold the seminar, NAPM quotes Nitish Kumar, Bihar chief minister, as saying that the recent flood like situation in 12 districts ,including Patna, was “caused by huge siltation in river Ganga”, which a result of “silt being deposited in Ganga due to the construction of Farakka dam in West Bengal.”
Kumar insisted on August 21, “The only way to remove silt from the river is to remove the Farakka dam.” This stands in sharp contrast to Jawaharlal Nehru calling in 1963 Bhakra Nangal Project “the new temple of resurgent India”, and “symbol of India's progress”, suggests NAPM.
According to NAPM, while big dam proponents, including governments, advance the logic that they provide “multiple benefits in terms of vitally needed irrigation, 'clean' electricity and sometimes flood control services”, millions of displaced people have pointed to how they lead to “large scale human tragedy” and “ensuing violations of the fundamental human rights of the severely affected.”
NAPM says, “Government reports and judicial judgments prove that dams are one of the root cause of the disasters that are happening in India”, suggesting they lead to such devastations like the one which took place in 2013 in Uttarkhand. Yet, it regrets, “Financial institutions, national and international, have often found these big projects a 'good long term investment'.”
NAPM further says, these financial institutes suggest that these big dams may help overcome “threat of climate change from large scale fossil fuel burning for energy”, and hence are “sources of 'clean energy'.”
However, the fact is, it underlines, “The question of their emission of the greenhouse gas methane (from the submerged biomass, through anoxic decomposition), which is anywhere between 70-90 times as potent as carbon dioxide in the shorter term, has not been fully investigated or settled.”
Pointing out that the big dams in India – 4,877 in all, with 313 under construction – have traditionally been designed and built with the three major objectives of irrigation (with the logic that nearly 58% of Indian farm land is still un-irrigated), flood-control and power generation; yet says NAPM, their negative impacts are not looked into,
“The first two requires large water holding capacity, thus necessarily submerging large areas of forests and fertile farmlands along with villages and even towns (Sardar Sarovar on Narmada, Tehri of Bhagirathi, Hirakud on Mahanadi etc.)”, it says.
With the Indian economy focusing more on providing for the rising power demands of big industries and urban centres, NAPM says, “the trend has turned” to so-called “Run of the River projects” which allegedly have “comparatively lower submergence” targeted primarily towards “power generation (Nathpa-Jhakri, Karchham-Wangtoo, Baglihar, Dharasu etc.).”
Pointing out that the installed capacity of hydro-power in India has reached 42,800 MW (roughly 14% of the total installed electricity capacity in India of 304,000 MW), NAPM says, this is leading to ecological disaster.
“Getting the bigger 'gravitational head' or the height difference of intake and discharge of water, means that these are targeting the mountainous areas with high gradients, increasingly – the Himalayas”, says NAPM.
It adds, these additionally cause submergence of “pristine forests and farm land, inducing frequent and large landslides by the change of the moisture regime”, even as inviting earthquakes “by the enormous gravitational load on highly seismic geological terrain, and creating conditions for higher moisture-rainfall envelope in fragile mountain slopes.”

Comments

TRENDING

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

Poser to Modi: Why is Gujarat not fulfilling Constitutional obligations to minorities?

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.