World Bank approves US$175 million for India’s National Hydrology Project

The World Bank Board has approved US$175 million for India’s National Hydrology Project, which will strengthen the capacity of the country’s institutions to assess the water situation in their regions and reduce vulnerability to recurring flood and droughts, according to the World Bank.

The loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has a 6-year grace period, and a maturity of 23 years.

With rainfall in India being highly seasonal and 50% of precipitation falling in just 15 days and over 90% of river flows in just four months, India continues to be water-stressed and is faced with the challenge of managing its water needs amidst recurring floods and drought.

The National Hydrology Project is designed to build on the success of the Hydrology Project-I and Hydrology Project-II, under which, for the first time, real-time flood forecast systems integrated with weather forecast in two large river systems: Krishna, in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh; and Satluj-Beas, in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab.

As a result, the time available for early warnings on flood and preparation for flood management improved from hours to days, which led to saving hundreds of lives and avoided flood damages ranging from US$17 million to US$65 million in a year, according to the World Bank.

Funding from parts I and II of the National Hydrology Project helped reservoir managers employ technology and systems to determine an accurate picture of the water situation in their region.

India’s hydropower projects have in the past temporarily ceased operations as a result of monsoon-generated flooding. In 2013, silt, debris and high waters created by one of the heaviest monsoons in India’s history halted operations at a number of hydroelectric projects in the northern part of the country.

According to India’s meteorological department at that time, areas in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand states received as much as 440% of their normal rainfall, severely effecting the power supply in a region heavily dependent on hydropower.

India also plans to construct additional facilities to alleviate some its water stress. According to the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, India is permitted to construct water storage on western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — up to 3.6 million acre feet for various purposes, including domestic use.

In January, HydroWorld.com reported India’s Central Water Commission signed a pair of memorandums of understanding that will support dam safety and repair initiatives, which could work in conjunction with efforts to reduce the country’s vulnerability to recurring flood and droughts.

The agreements, signed with the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and the Indian Institute of Science-Bengaluru, will “help them for the procurement of specified equipment and software for enhancing their capability to support dam rehabilitation efforts,” according to CWC.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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