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Open letter to Tata Sustainability Group to stop westward diversion of Bhima basin water by Tata Hydro projects

  Posted on August 20, 2015 by SANDRP


Google Earth image indicating water diversion to Konkan from Tata Dams (marked in red arrows)

From: Parineeta Dandekar (Pune) & Himanshu Thakkar (Delhi)

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP)

[email protected][email protected]

August 20, 2015


Tata Sustainability Group

Army & Navy Building, 2nd Floor

Mahatma Gandhi Road,

Mumbai 400001, [email protected]

  1. Shankar Venkateswaran

Chief – Tata Sustainability Group: [email protected]

  1. Dr. Avinash Patkar

Head – Environment Services: [email protected]

  1. Sudhakar Gudipati

General Manager – Community Services[email protected]

  1. Alka Upadhyay

General Manager – Environment Services: [email protected]

  1. Ajit Chaudhuri

General Manager – Community Services: [email protected]

  1. Sourav Roy

Program Leader – Tata Uttarakhand Program: [email protected]

  1. Abhishek Goyal

Senior Manager – Environment Services: [email protected]

  1. Zarir DeVitre

Manager – Environment Services: [email protected]

  1. Manjula Sriram

Manager – Community Services: [email protected]

  1. Lucas Saldhana

Assistant Manager – Tata Sustainability Group: [email protected]

Dear members of Tata Sustainability Group,

We are encouraged to write to you on this subject, thinking that considering the name, objective of the TSG and also the various statements on the TSG website, you will take prompt and necessary action on this subject.

We are writing to you in the context of Bhima basin in Maharashtra and Krishna river basin in general facing the worst monsoon deficit, crop loss and water scarcity. Millions of farmers are facing crop loss, livelihood loss and worst. Ujani dam on Bhima River is below its live storage level now and in the downstream Telangana, Nagarjunsagar is at zero live storage level and Srisailam has just 9% water in its live storage. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have said they have no water to save farmers’ crops; they are reserving the available water for drinking water.

However, in this situation, Tata Power Dams are diverting water FROM water scarce Bhima-Krishna basins to high rainfall Konkan area through the three hydro power houses of Bhira, Khopoli and Bhivpuri. The water that these projects are diverting is depriving the Bhima-Krishna basin of its rightful share.

In fact the first right over the water in the Bhima-Krishna basin is that of the people of this basin, they are facing life and livelihood threatening water crisis and their rightful water is being diverted away by Tata Power. This is not only unsustainable, but also unjust, in violation of human rights, right to life of the people of Bhima-Krishna basin.

We have been writing to this issue, some of the writings can be seen at the following links:


We are writing to request you to do everything in your power to stop this unjust westward diversion of water by Tata dams urgently and ensure the release of this water now and whatever more water enters these dams, to the Bhima Krishna basin and not divert any water to Konkan, until the water situation in Bhima-Krishna basin improves.

Sustainability, asyou’re your website, (see: means, “balancing economic, environmental and social performance” and “ensuring that all its stakeholders benefit”. And “Sustainability in the Tata context is about ensuring that in the process of doing business, its companies assess its impacts on society and the environment and minimise the harm as they work towards maximising the good”.

TSG’s mission is: “TSG will guide, support, and provide thought leadership to all Tata group companies in embedding sustainability in their business strategies and demonstrating responsibility towards society and the environment.”

We believe what we are requesting you is in line with these laudable objectives and statements. Tata Power needs to understand the impacts of its action of westward water diversion from Bhima basin “on society and the environment” and need to stop this diversion NOW to “minimise the harm”. We hope TSG will provide the necessary leadership to Tata Power, since current action of westward diversion cannot be defined as sustainable business strategy, not does it demonstrate “responsibility towards society and the environment”.

The Tata Water Booklet says“In this context of water scarcity, the challenge will be to find innovative ways to manage water resources without putting added stress on existing water sources. It is also important to identify regions where water shortage is the most acute… All you have to do is be more observant and aware about how you can save a few litres of water while going about your daily activities… Water bodies like rivers, lakes, streams, wells, reservoirs, etc form the largest chunk of fresh water reserves. This water is charged through rain water, and forms a vital element of this natural cycle.”

Indeed, Bhima-Krishna basin and surrounding areas in Maharashtra and downstream are “regions where water shortage is the most acute”. We hope TSG and Tata Power will have observed this and will act to save this water for the water scarce region rather than allowing its westward diversion through Tata hydro projects, through which they are “putting added stress on existing water sources”. The water bodies in the basin, including Bhima river are indeed “charged through rain water and forms a vital element of natural cycle” as Tata Water booklet says, but what Tata dams and hydropower projects are doing is against the natural cycle and depriving the river and people of Bhima basin what is rightfully theirs.

As we have been writing in articles (links above), Tata hydro stations have already diverted about 180 Million Cubic Meters (MCM) of water and these dams hold 622 MCM of water. This water, if released to Bhima basin, can go a long way in ameliorating the situation of the people in Bhima-Krishna basin. As far as providing peaking power for Mumbai/ Maharashtra that these projects may have provided in their normal functioning is concerned, that can be possibly provided by functioning of the Bhira HEP in pump storage mode without involving any net diversion of water from Bhima-Krishna basin. Tata Power can certainly bear the losses entailed in this change in operation till water situation in Bhima-Krishna basin improves.

In any case, as we understand, Tata Power is paying no royalties for use and diversion of precious water from Bhima-Krishna basin for generation of power and profits made therefrom?

Shri Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Group promised in his introductory remarks to the Water Booklet available on TSG website: “Tata companies will measure their carbon footprint and will strive to: • Be the benchmark in their segment of industry on the carbon footprint, for their plants and operations. • Engage actively in climate change advocacy and the shaping of regulations in different business sectors. • Incorporate ‘green’ perspective in all key organisational processes.”

We hope TSG and Tata Power will indeed fulfill the promise given by Shri Ratan Tata and show that indeed they incorporate green & just perspective & stop westward diversion of water from Bhima-Krishna basin.

The Water booklet back cover appeals: “So join us in our campaign to conserve this precious resource. Every drop counts!” We are writing to you indeed to save the many millions of drops of Bhima-Krishna basin from going to Konkan and down to sea in this hour of acute water scarcity in Maharashtra and further down in Krishna basin.

We also hope TSG will remember Gandhiji’s famous quote displayed on the back cover of Tata Water booklet: “There is enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed” & decide to recommend release of Tata Dam water for the needs of the Bhima-Krishna basin.

We and people of Bhima-Krishna basin will eagerly look forward to your, Tata Power’s andTata Groups’ response on this.

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,

Himanshu Thakkar and Parineeta Dandekar


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