Polavaram Dam- Ecological Disaster బుధవారం, జన 23 2008 

Polavaram project in legal wrangle

The multi-crore Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh is currently embroiled in legal issues. But now, the project is being contested on technical issues as well. A study carried out by the International Water Management Institute (iwmi), an international non-profit research and development organization, has questioned the fundamental basis on which the project was designed.

It was designed on the estimation that since the Godavari river has surplus water, it will be transferred to the water-deficit Krishna basin.

 •  Polavaram factfile

The iwmi report has found that the Godavari does not have enough water to spare. A feasibility report by the National Water Development Agency (nwda) on the other hand says Godavari is water surplus. It calculated the surface water availability at Polavaram—the downstream-most dam on the Godavari (there are three dams)—to be 80,170 million cubic metres (mcm), considering 75 per cent assured flow (water available for 75 per cent of time in a year).

nwda officials calculated the figure using annual average rainfall data. iwmi calculated surface water availability to be 36,000 mcm using monthly data. After deducting all water allocations, as designed by nwda, there is a deficit of 37,199 mcm (see table: Godavari: Surplus or not?).

“The problem with the annual average is it does not consider variability of flow within a year, which is very high in monsoon-driven rivers,” says Vladimir Smakhtin, a hydrologist with iwmi, in his report. The catchment area gets around 70 per cent of rainfall just between June and September.

nwda officials disagree. “Estimates based on annual average and monthly average will certainly vary. Since rainfall is not uniform throughout the year, it is better to take annual average. Our methodology is used for all inter-basin water transfer and is peer reviewed and approved by technical experts,” says N K Bhandari, chief engineer with nwda.

Smakhtin says the nwda method of calculation also overlooks the allocation of water to keep the river ecosystem alive. The water used for such purposes is called environmental water, which is an equally important component of use, besides other uses such as irrigation, domestic and industrial projects. “The present planning of inter-basin water transfer is based on future irrigation requirement and ignores environmental water demand, which is important to maintain the ecology of the basin,” says Parikshit Gautam, director, Freshwater and Wetland Conservation Programme, wwf- India. iwmi estimates that 8,200 mcm of water flow is required to keep the river fit for fisheries and wildlife. This itself is a conservative figure as this flow cannot make the river fit for human consumption by checking human and industrial waste.



Perilious Mega Projects- Weak Regulatory Institutions శనివారం, జన 12 2008 

The environment`s back in business
Latha Jishnu / Business Standard, New Delhi January 12, 2008
Whether it is quashing the Polavaram dam’s clearance or the CEC asking Posco to get a composite clearance, rushing through environment approvals will no longer be as easy.
When the National Environmental Appellate Authority (NEAA) quashed the clearance granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to Polavaram, one of the most expensive multipurpose dam projects in the country, three weeks ago, it came as a stunning verdict.
It was the first time in its 10-year history that the NEAA is said to have overturned an environmental clearance given by MoEF, and it caught the Andhra Pradesh government, which is implementing the project, by surprise. For the environmentalists, it was an unexpected victory although it turned out to be a short-lived one. In an appeal to the AP High Court, the government managed to get a stay on the NEAA decision.
Polavaram, with a 150-foot high dam on the Godavari, is a gigantic undertaking. It envisages the diversion of 80,000 million cubic feet of its waters through a 174-km link canal to the Krishna in a project that promises seemingly huge benefits: irrigation for 291,000 hectares, drinking water to 2.5 million people in villages on the project’s route, apart from a substantial part for Visakhapatnam city, and a hydroelectric power station with a generating capacity of 960 MW. All of this is expected to cost over Rs 12,500 crore, up sharply from the initially estimated Rs 9,000 crore.
The bigger cost, however, is the displacement. The project straddles parts of Chhattisgarh and Orissa and around 200,000 — far higher than the 150,000 displaced by the controversial Sardar Sarovar Dam — would have to be resettled. The surprising part about the clearance for Polavaram is that the MoEF did so without holding the mandatory public hearings on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report in either Chhattisgarh or Orissa, which are dead set against the project because they derive no benefits. (మరింత…)