“Bolo Jai Jai Baba Bhole”, the Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modi, while speaking at Kedarnath in Uttarakhand in Oct 2017[i], asked the people in audience to chant with him. Indian deity Mahadev, the presiding deity at Kedarnath on the banks of Mandakini river is possibly the closest to rivers and nature among all the deities, as is also clear from his attire. Baba Bhole is one of the many names of this deity. Incidentally, the massive, controversial Pancheshwar Dam a pet project of Mr Modi will also submerge the Pancheshwar Mahadev Temple, where too, the presiding deity is same Bhole Baba. But we will come back to Bhole Baba. Continue reading “Who exactly needs the Pancheshwar Dam?”
Captivating images of lakes and wetlands strike the imagination of general masses when the name of Jammu and Kashmir is mentioned. For years, the aquatic wonders have been the main attraction of tourists, at the same time supporting livelihood of local communities in multiple ways. These water bodies also provide safe habitats to the lakhs of migratory birds.
However, over the years, gradual siltation, steady encroachment and increasing pollution have put the wetlands eco-system and associated socio-economical benefits at receiving ends. And, in 2017 the situation only got worse.
In a remarkable protest echoing urgent need for protection of rivers, fisherfolk of Kosasthalai River on 03 January 2018, launched a ‘Jal Satyagraha’ against Kamarajar Port project. The proposal would divert 1000 acres of creek area. It mainly comprises of river, wetlands, marshy areas on which fisher community depend for livelihood.
Raising their voices against the project with holding play cards that read “This is River, Not Land” they stood in waist-deep in waters to save Ennore Creek. Joining the protest, hundreds of residents also demanded the withdrawal of alleged fraudulent maps denying the existence of the Ennore Creek. The community has been fighting a lonely battle against the Tamil Nadu government accusing it of turning wetlands illegally into industrial real estate corridors.
– “Fishing economy has been hit massively. Shrinking of water body means less space for fish. Shrinking has happened in terms of surface spread as well as depth thanks to the dumping of dredged sand from the sea, silting the waterbody. The larger concern is fly ash and heavy metals from the industries polluting the environment causing health hazards,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, Environmental activist and researcher who was part of the protest. https://www.oneindia.com/india/chennai-fisherfolk-stage-jal-satyagraha-to-save-ennore-creek-2613088.html (One India, 04 January 2018)
Guest blog by The Coastal Resource Centre, Chennai
This stories of Adyar and Kosasthalaiyar Rivers from Chennai is fifth in the series of online stories of urban rivers from across India. Please share your feedback and provide us with suggestions (read more in appendix). If you have any urban river stories or images that you might want to share, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
The South Indian coastal city of Chennai is home to more than 5 million people. The city is predominantly flat and consists of sandy coastal plains drained by three major rivers the Adyar, Cooum and Kosasthalaiyar. The latter is the largest and empties through a backwater and estuary at the Ennore Creek.
Because of its flat topography, early settlements in the region were possible only after making arrangements to hold rainwater through harvesting structures like Eri’s or irrigation tanks. Surplus from the tank network was designed to drain into rivers and thence to the Bay of Bengal.
Between 1980 and 2010, the built up area inside the city has grown from 47 square km to 402 sq km. During the same period, area under waterbodies declined from 186 square km to 71 square km.
Degrading land-use change and the abuse of the three rivers in the name of urbanisation is a major factor in the city’s increased vulnerabilities to droughts and floods.
In the first part we have seen, countless reports from 2017 revealing unabated riverbed mining, exposing some politicians-officials-mafia nexus and showing no let up in violent attacks on many villagers, activists, government officials possibly by sand mafia across the country.
In the second part of Sand Mining Review of 2017, reports have highlighted several State Governments failing to effectively reign in unsustainable sand mining business despite sometimes prompt administrative actions. Interestingly, while several States want the Centre to form a uniform mechanism, the Central Government on the contrary has proposed further dilution of mining laws.
Now, here is third and concluding part of this review, highlighting judicial interventions on the issue.
As per NGT’s October 16, order, the Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) was asked to set up a “neutral” panel to objectively consider conflicting recommendations that have stalled the 2,000-MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project (HEP) on the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam border and come up with an “independent opinion” in three months.
The NGT said this was the only way to break the six-year logjam that has stalled a project vital to the “national interest.”
Contrary to this, MoEF on November 16, 2017 has set up a three-member panel with experts -who or their organisations- have all backed NHPC’s positions on the project in the past: Prabhas Pande, I D Gupta and P M Scott.