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The World Bank’s “Turbulent Water Future” (In fact Turbulent Water Past and also Turbulent Water Present, but that, as they say, is another story). South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People. Welcome Analysis. All Water issues are local issues (p 25)

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South asia network on dams rivers people

The World Bank’s “Turbulent Water Future”(In fact Turbulent Water Past and also Turbulent Water Present, but that, as they say, is another story)

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People

Welcome analysis
Welcome Analysis

  • All Water issues are local issues (p 25)

  • Wishful thinking that supply side options will solve everything

  • Enormous backlog of deferred maintenance

  • Lack of accountability

  • Endemic Corruption

  • More big dams is zero sum game in increasing number of basins

  • Atmosphere of dangerous complacency based on wrong assumptions about environmental impacts, GW availability & financial implications

  • Insufficient revenue even for O & M

  • Budgets spent on personnel, not maintenance

  • Rivers have turned into fetid sewers

  • Industries & cities need to massively invest in sewers & treatment plants; use water efficiently

Missing links in the analysis
Missing links in the Analysis

  • State of India’s water storages

  • Need to protect existence of Rivers as provider of water for largest number of people

  • Performance of India’s water storages

  • Options for water storages exist

  • No credible figure for storages through small systems: No such figure for any river basin

  • Usable storage space in underground aquifers

  • Performance of large hydro

  • Option of using existing hydro capacity for greater peaking output

  • Option of adding small hydro capacities: Even less explored than the large hydro potential: Useful for taking power to the unreached

  • Potential of achieving economy through techniques like System of Rice Intensification

  • Potential of increasing irrigation efficiencies

  • No mention of RIGHT to water: Rights are not tradable

  • Lack of democracy in Water Sector: No role for people

Important imperatives listed
Important Imperatives listed

  • Empower Users: Give clear, enforceable entitlements (and RIGHTS)

  • Participatory regulation of services & resources

  • Making the environment a high priority

  • Making local people the 1st beneficiaries

  • Bring GW abstractions in line with recharge

  • Demands will have to be brought down to match sustainable supply in many parts

  • Develop transparent information and decision support systems


Some wrong imperatives pushed
Some Wrong imperatives pushed

  • Uncritical advocacy of more LARGE storages

  • Uncritical advocacy of Large Hydro

  • Uncritical advocacy for new infrastructure “of all scales” (for surface water and wastewater treatment): You cannot do all scales at any one place: You have to prioritise and have clearly defined decision making process

  • No credible analysis of lessons of TVA/ DVC while advocating the model for Brahmaputra Valley

  • (Uncritical, repeated push for) Privatisation, competition, market

  • (WB’s Uncritical, non transparent study on Brahmaputra on the lines of TVA)

A very important omission
A very important Omission:

  • Recommendations of the World

    Commission on Dams: The report was

    a result of an exercise in which majority of

    commissioners were supporters of

    large projects. This was the first ever

    and most transparent, open, inclusive

    process to assess the development

    effectiveness of large dams and it came

    out with a unanimous report in November 2000. The Report offers a framework for decision making process on Large projects and options.

  • The World Bank and the Govt. of India participated in the process right from the beginning

  • There can be many ways for a better future, status quo is not one of them…..

Important imperatives missing
Important Imperatives missing

  • Top Priority to O & M and getting optimum performance from existing infrastructure

  • Limit abstraction of GW in line with recharge

  • Make the abstractor responsible for recharge

  • Make the polluter REALLY pay for the pollution (Why should state pay for the pollution created by industries?)

  • Pick low hanging fruits first: small water systems, small hydro, use of existing hydro for peaking FIRST

  • Lessons from past experiences

Water storages are silting up fast
Water Storages are silting up fast

  • As per the report of NCIWRD, about 1.4 BCM of existing storage capacity is getting silted up every year.

  • At today’s rates creation of 1.4 BCM storage capacity would cost Rs 1448 crores.

  • That means that on an average, each day we are losing Rs 4 crores worth of storage capacity through siltation.

  • And there is little serious attempt to stop this.

  • The required Catchment Area Treatment for even Bhakra was not done. Same for other projects

Implications of empty storage capacity
Implications of empty storage capacity

  • On an average, each year about 36.25 BCM (equivalent of 6.5 Sardar Sarovar Projects) of storage capacity out of only the monitored storage capacity is not filled up for the last 12 years.

  • That means that on an average an investment of Rs 37793 crores has remained idle in each of the last 12 years.

  • This happens when in 7 of the 12 years the rainfall was average or above. (See the figures in brackets in col. 2.)

  • Should we not be trying to understand why this is happening? How we can make the existing storage capacity play the useful role it is supposed to, in stead of pushing for more storages?

    Note: This analysis needs to be done storage wise and river basin wise for all large storages. We could not do it as we could not get the required information.

Uncritical advocacy for large hydro
Uncritical advocacy for large hydro

  • There is strong push for large hydro projects today, as if large hydro projects are good in themselves. Little attempt is to do a credible assessment of performance of large hydro projects.

  • In fact installed capacity of large hydro has increased at a compound growth rate of 4.35% per annum during 1991-2005, HIGHER than all other power sectors. What is the performance, however?

Diminishing returns from large hydro
Diminishing Returns from Large Hydro

  • As can be seen from the chart, the Million Units energy generated from large hydro projects has been almost continuously falling over the last eleven years. And the fall is huge 31%. There are many reasons for this, use of large hydro to provide peaking capacity is not one of them to the best of our information.

Largest infrastructure poorest performance
Largest infrastructure, poorest performance?

  • India has the largest Irrigation Infrastructure in the world but it is performing far below its capacity.

  • Finance Minister Chidambaram said in his budget speech in Feb 2005, “Water-use efficiency in the Indian agriculture is one of the lowest in the world”.

  • The mid term appraisal of 9th 5 Year Plan had noted, “With a 10% increase in the present level of water use efficiency, it is estimated, an additional 14 m ha can be brought under irrigation from existing irrigation facilities”.

  • The 14 m ha of additional irrigation is an agenda for over a decade at current rate of additional irrigation being created.

  • Why is there no serious attempt to make amends in this situation?

Some water sector implications of sri
Some Water Sector implications of SRI

  • Irrigation takes away over 80% of all water use

  • Paddy occupies the largest area under irrigation, about 24 M Ha

  • SRI can reduce water use by over 50%

  • SRI can increase yield by over 50%

  • Other inputs (seed, chemicals) also goes down

  • Tested in over 20 countries

  • Tested by hundreds of farmers in AP, TN, W Bengal, Chhattisgarh

  • GOI also (though very feeble heartedly) supports SRI

Legacy of criminal neglect of environment is catching up fast

Nathpa Jhakri


Sardar Sarovar

Indira Sagar

Lower Subansiri




Middle Siang







Loharinag Pala

Allain Duhangan

Karcham Wangtoo


Legacy of criminal neglect of Environment is catching up, FAST

Questions on large hydro
Questions on Large Hydro

  • As we saw earlier, the performance is diminishing. There has not been credible review of their performance, which needs to be done.

  • There is a significant scope of improving the performance of these projects and reducing siltation.

  • We need to keep in mind that not all large hydro provide peaking power. Run of the River projects are operated round the clock at least in monsoon (as long as there is sufficient water in the river) and some on snow fed rivers in summer too when there is increased flow of water. Even storage dams, once filled up in monsoon are operated round the clock, so they do not provide peaking power at such times.

  • It is possible to get more peaking power output from existing projects by operating them optimally.

  • There is also need to manage the peaks. As the WB report says, supply side solutions for all demands is no longer going to be possible.

  • For significant portion o the vast majority of people who do not have access to electricity and whom govt. wants to reach fast, decentralised generation including small hydro is the best option.

Some gross errors
Some Gross Errors

  • Bhakra does not irrigated 7 m ha as claimed on page 16, only 1.3 m ha as mentioned in “Impacts of Bhakra Nangal Project”, CBIP, 2005

  • Bhakra installed capacity is not 2800 MW mentioned on page 16, but 1480 MW as mentioned in the same CBIP publication, including Bhakra left bank, right bank, Kotla and Ganguwal HEPs.

    And Some Gross Misleading statements

  • It is well known that irrigation brings multiple benefits, but that is true for all forms of irrigation, not just major projects

  • Do not paint a toxic future, look into the toxic implications of the projects too

Thank you