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DRP News Bulletin 27 March 2017 (DON’T WE NEED TO LEARN TO TRULY CELEBRATE OUR RIVERS?)

This is about the proposed Brahmaputra Festival being planned by the Assam Govt from March 31 to April 4, 2017. The five-day festival will witness significant participation from China. Various other countries such as Vietnam and Singapore are also reported as attending the program. It is scheduled to be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee.  

It is true that the word business appears four times on the opening page of this festival website, but the word flood, erosion and people do not appear even once. This is relevant since for very large sections of people of Assam, the river also means floods, erosion, displacement and disaster on regular basis and not just “lifeline of Assam” or “life-giving prosperity and countless blessings”.  

The festival website also errs in many ways, including when it claims “India’s only male river”, since there are several male rivers, including Damodar, Ajoy, Pagla, Gadadhar, among others. It is true that even the word Nemami is copied from the Nemami Gange, but that should not be such a big issue?

It is true that people also suffer when river dries up or is polluted or is encroached or unsustainably mined, and none of these issues are highlighted by the festival website. It is true that the the Assam also means all the communities, including the bodos and mishing and many others, not just Guwahati or Dibrugarh or Majuli. The festival organisers may argue that we are taking the festival to all 21 districts, but it is important to recognised all communities of Assam.

This is in addition to the fact that Brahmaputra includes all the states of North East India, and more. The Brahmaputra, 2,900 km long, is an international river with 918 km of it flowing in India, 1625 km in China and 337 km in Bangladesh.

It is true that the festival is more about attracting tourists, business and transport along the river. And so it is not even giving a comprehensive picture of the rivers of Brahmaputra basin in Assam, nor is there attempt to do anything to improve the state of the rivers. Similarly, the destruction of the rivers of Guwahati and Assam needs to be halted and reversed, and may be this occasion can be used to push that advocacy?

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Rajasthan Rivers Profile

About Rajasthan

Location: North West India; Area:- 342,239 sq km; Geography:-Desert plains and mountainous (Aravalli range); Population:- 68.54 million People; Rivers:- 6 Major River basins; Districts:-33 Districts; Climate:- Drier Western and Tropical Eastern part

About Rajasthan Rivers 

Rivers in Rajasthan are mostly seasonal, but this fact explains little because a river is not just the surface flow, evident to a naked eye. All the rivers and their floodplains in this desert state are vast grazing grounds supporting millions of livestock. These unseen rivers also recharge the groundwater making well irrigation possible.  

Modern-day development activities, however, are putting an enormous pressure on them. If deforestation has reduced the water flow, rampant sand mining has affected the water retention and seepage into subsurface channels. Aravallis also has large number of marble mines and processing units. While digging operations extensively damage the environment, discharge of a large amount of slurry by processing units also blocks water channels. Industrial and domestic wastewater has further affected the quality and biodiversity of rivers. 

Continue reading “Rajasthan Rivers Profile”