Global Warming and Hydro-electric Projects

The misleading Press Release of the Ministry of Water Resources, Govt of India, on August 21 and diverse responses to it must be responded to set the issue in proper context. Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav, Minister of State in the Ministry of Water Resources belongs to Rashtriya Janata Dal of Laloo Prasad Yadav. One can be almost confident that none of the political parties including Rashtriya Janata Dal have any position on climate change. Therefore, there is no point in singling him out.

Yadav is simply quoting what Geological Survey of India (GSI) position is with regard to climate change and not articulating the position of Ministry of Water Resources but by doing so it has cleverly indulged in selective reporting of facts to suit its ongoing and proposed hydro-electric projects. There is hardly any credible scientist who has not underlined that global warming is no more a debatable issue, it is a reality staring mankind in the face.


India is a signatory to Kyoto Protocol. Will Gauri Chatterjee, Secretary, Water Resources, Government of India explain as to whether India ratified the Protocol even as it continued to believe that global warming is "debatable"?. Did she brief Yadav properly about climate change? It is her responsibility to brief the Minister about global warming and how land use changes such as through hydro-electric projects contributes to climate change?


At a recent Panel Discussion on Lok Sabha TV, when the Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, chairman, parliamentary standing committee on water resources was asked as to how can Water Resources Ministry and the committee feign ignorance about government's own wisdom about climate change. He responded by saying that u intend to terrify me by citing global warming.Yadav is not alone in committing mistakes.


Did the Water Resources Ministry forgot that there is Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change which is coordinating National action plans for assessment, adaptation and mitigation of climate and facilitate inter-ministerial coordination and guide policy in relevant areas?. This mistake seems to have emerged also from the failure of the Council to do its job properly.


According to Namo Narayana Meena, Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, "The Government has set up the “Expert Committee on Impacts of Climate Change” on 7th May 2007 under the chairmanship of Dr. R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India".

Here is what the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh himself said in a written reply on 22 August, 2007 in the parliament:

A coordination committee chaired by Prime Minister called Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change has been recently constituted to coordinate national action for assessment, adaptation and mitigation of climate change. The focus of the Committee is to:

i. Evolve a coordinated response to issues relating to climate change at the national level;

ii. Provide oversight for formulation of action plans in the area of assessment, adaptation and mitigation of climate change;

iii. Periodically monitor key policy decisions.

The Government has also set up an “Expert Committee on Impacts of Climate Change”. The Terms of Reference of the Committee are as under:

i. To study the impacts of anthropogenic climate change on India.

ii. To identify the measures that we may have to take in the future in relation to addressing vulnerability to anthropogenic climate change impacts.

iii. Any other matter relevant to (i) and (ii) above.

This information was given by the Prime Minister in a written reply to question by J.M.Aaron Rashid and Dr. Arun Kumar Sarma in the Lok Sabha.

Does the Water Resources Ministry still feel that climate change is "debatable"?

--
Gopal Krishna


---------------------Original Message---------------------------------------------

From: Himanshu Thakkar <ht.sandrp@gmail.com>
Date: Aug 22, 2007 11:38 AM
Subject: Ministry of Water Resources misleading everyone on global warming?
To: waterwatch@yahoogroups.com

Dear All,
The following Press Release from the Press Information Bureau, on behalf of the Ministry of Water Resources, Govt of India, on Aug 21, 2007 raises many questions.
1. It says at the end of first para, "it may also be due to global warming a topic which is still debatable." Does this mean the Ministry of Water Resources and hence govt of India still considers global warming is a debatable topic? This is very shocking, when there is so much scientific evidence from all over the world about the impact of global warming on climate and contribution of human activities there of. [If the MWR claims that it is quoting GSI opinion, even then the ministry's stand is questionable as to why did it found fit to quote an unscientific assertion?]
2. The first para says, "the recession of glaciers of the glaciers may result due to subnormal snowfall...", this means that the agencies concerned, including MWR has no idea if there has been reduction in snowfall or not and if there is, how much of that may impact recession of glaciers. Moreover, in the next para the PR says, "...snow fall and precipitation which is likely to go up with global warming..." Now if the global warming will lead to increase in snowfall, than where is the question of the subnormal snowfall leading to recession of glaciers? Theoratically, it can be said that the statement is correct, but practically, there are obvious contradictions.
3. The next statement is, "More melting of glaciers will generate more water initially. Hence there is no likelihood of northern rivers drying up in the near future." Does the ministry have the data to substantiate if the rivers have more water in summer (when glaciers melt)? What does "new future" mean? What will happen after that?
There are some people from the water resources establishement on this forum and I would like them to clarify these issues and get further information from the ministry.
Himanshu
--------------------------------

PIB 210807

Ministry of Water Resources

GLOBAL WARMING AND HYDRO-ELECTRIC PROJECTS

RAJYA SABHA

Various reports indicate that the average temperature values of the earth has in last decade shown increasing trend. As reported by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the seasonal snow cover has been melting in the last few years, the same way it was in the past and it seems that effect is more pronounced on Glaciers. Geological Survey of India (GSI) have reported that most of the glaciers of Himalayas as well as in the other parts of the world are receding and the recession of the glaciers may result due to subnormal snowfall, higher temperature during summer, less severe winter or a combination of all of them. The GSI has further reported that it may also be due to global warming a topic which is still debatable.

As per GSI, if the present scenario of receding glaciers is accelerated, there may be some reduction in the river discharge. However, it may be noted that the major part of the river discharge is contributed by snow fall and precipitation which is likely to go up with global warming. More melting of glaciers will generate more water initially. Hence there is no likelihood of northern rivers drying up in the near future.

This information was given by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Water Resources Shri Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav in a written reply to question by Smt. Maya Singh :in the Rajya Sabha today.

SKS:PM

--
Himanshu Thakkar

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People
Delhi, India

himanshuthakkar@iitbombay.org
ht.sandrp@gmail.com

www.sandrp.in


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