Wetlands

J&K Wetlands Overview 2019: New Threats Looming, Old Remain Unresolved

Jammu and Kashmir has many wetlands of national importance and international recognition. These water bodies are critical source of livelihood and job opportunities for a large number of population in form of fishing, farming, tourism etc. Moreover, most of the wetlands in the region fall under Central Asian Flyway Zone (CAF) and visited by lakhs of migratory and endangered birds during their annual migration march. These wetlands areas also provide safe refuge to native vegetation and wild animals. Their protection is crucial to combat the dual impact of climate change, water scarcity and flooding.  

Continue reading “J&K Wetlands Overview 2019: New Threats Looming, Old Remain Unresolved”

Sand Mining

Haryana Riverbed Mining 2019: Yamuna Robbed of Minerals, Flows

For past two years, large scale mechanized and illegal mining is happening in Yamuna River in Haryana state. The miners have created deep pits across the riverbed in Yamuna Nagar, Karnal, Panipat and Sonipat districts. Year 2019 has been a deficit monsoon year in Yamuna basin and the river had started shrinking unusually during October month. The rampant riverbed excavation has further robbed it of lean season flows. This detailed overview of river sand mining in Haryana in 2019 shows the severe impact of unsustainable and illegal mining practices on the river and villagers due to insensitive government and inefficient administration.

Continue reading “Haryana Riverbed Mining 2019: Yamuna Robbed of Minerals, Flows”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 20 Jan 2020: India urgently needs national urban water policy

A large number of stories this week remind us that India urgently needs national urban water policy.

The water footprint of urban areas is gradually on the rise. The cities have several problems with management including destruction of water sources, groundwater exploitation, poor performance in treating and recycling the polluted water, pollution and encroachment on water bodies etc. To fulfil their growing demands new dams, barrages and check dams are being planned, proposed and built on the rivers in faraway places, which is in turn displacing and depriving the local people of equitable water share.

Even before onset of summer, the Army in Sagar district have started patrolling Chitora dam to prevent water thefts (denying farmers to take dam water for irrigation).

The BMC in Bombay is finalizing total cost of Gargai dam which has roughly increased to three thousands crore from eighteen hundred crore according to first estimates in 2012.  The city is already getting its water from half a dozen dams. In Thane, apex court has removed stay on Kalu dam construction citing that it is meant to meet growing drinking water demand of Thane.

Meanwhile the respective agencies of Pune and Pimpri- Chinchwad have failed to stop pollution in Mula Mutha, Nag, Pavana, Indrayani rivers.

Similarly, in the name of restoration, the Gujarat government is planning barrages on Tapi, Vishwamitri rivers to meet drinking water demands of Surat and Vadodara.

Meanwhile the cost of Yettinahole diversion project has gone up from eight to twenty thousands crore. This project is also being pushing for drinking water supply.

In Chennai one more check dam on Cooum river has been finalized. The city is also facing sea water intrusion.

The story of Vashitha river in Salem shows how dumping the solid and liquid waste, mining and check dam has turned the river into a drain from pristine water stream in last twenty years.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 20 Jan 2020: India urgently needs national urban water policy”

Sand Mining

Punjab Sand Mining Overview 2019: Story of Political Patronage & Goonda Tax

Sand and gravels forming riverbed materials hold immense ecological value for living and healthy rivers systems. The inbuilt water filtration capacity and absorbing characteristic of the minor minerals plays critical functions in groundwater recharge and in ensuring lean season flow in the rivers. However for over two decades the brazen illegal and mechanized mining activities across the country have been irreversibly affecting the rivers and riverbank communities. The state of Punjab is among leading states where state government has failed[I] to ensure sustainable sand mining practices. The 2019 overview the state shows strong clout of political parties over the illegal sand mining operations without sharing a thought for the rivers and public.   

Continue reading “Punjab Sand Mining Overview 2019: Story of Political Patronage & Goonda Tax”

Sand Mining

Madhya Pradesh River Sand Mining 2019: Rivers mined Dry; Govt not bothered

The residents of villages abutting the sanctuary see sand mining as an important livelihood option because agriculture in the arid region is neither productive nor dependable. (HT Photo )

Madhya Pradesh is at the forefront of illegal sand mining activities. There have been violent attacks on government officials, reporters and villagers in recent years. The year 2019 saw change in state government and concerned people were hopeful that things will turn better now. However this overview shows not much have changed for rivers and people while attacks and fatalities continued in 2019.

Continue reading “Madhya Pradesh River Sand Mining 2019: Rivers mined Dry; Govt not bothered”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 13 Jan. 2020: We need new river management

With the beginning of New Year, there have been several media reports highlighting the river revival works and floodplain protection efforts going on in different parts of country. While the community driven efforts with active support from administration and experts to revive Kasal Odha in Solapur and bring back Old Lakhandei river in Sithamarhi have been bearing fruits. The civil societies, judiciary and administration have also taken steps to protect the floodplains of Ramnadi, Indrayani, Hindon rivers.

The artificial pond efforts by NGT panel and Delhi government have also shown positive results in preventing the pollution from idol immersion pollution reaching the Yamuna river. Similarly the CPCB has raised the issue of Mahi river pollution by industries in Central Gujarat. The Karnataka High Court questioning the authority and fund collection mechanism by Isha Foundation for Cauvery Calling initiative is particularly significant. While revival of rivers is imperative task, the accountability and transparency cannot be set aside.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 13 Jan. 2020: We need new river management”

Art, Literature, Culture · Dams · Environment · Ganga · Rivers and Culture · Rivers in Literature · Wetlands

“Padma, I have seen you many, many times.”

Part 2

(Part 1 is here)

Anna Akhmatova, who translated Rabindranath Tagore’s poems into Russian in the mid-1960s, described him as “that mighty flow of poetry which takes its strength from Hinduism as from the Ganges.” [i]

Although he explored the beauty of Upnishads and revered the “sacred current of the Ganges”, Tagore was not tied to them. A beacon of Hindu-Muslim unity, his poetry took strength from myriad precious details.

While he talks of Padma’s might, he also returns with a sense of belonging to smaller rivers like Kopai and Ichhamati. Continue reading ““Padma, I have seen you many, many times.””

Art, Literature, Culture · Bangladesh · brahmaputra · Dams · Free flowing rivers · Ganga

He Spoke the Language of the Rivers: Rabindranath Tagore

   Part 1 

Tagore.png

This was one of the last poems written by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. Bard of Bengal, Kabiguru, Bishwakabi: world knows him by many names. He reveled in life with the curiosity and wonderment of a child. In the Preface of Gitanjali (1912), Collection of poems which made him the first non-European to receive the Nobel in Literature, W. B. Yeats says, “Pearl fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while children gather pebbles and scatter them again. They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.” This was for Tagore as much as the children. Poet, musician, novelist, painter, educator, freedom fighter, rationalist, modernist: the world was his canvas. Continue reading “He Spoke the Language of the Rivers: Rabindranath Tagore”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 6 Jan 2020: When will Inland Fisheries get its due in decisions about rivers & other water bodies?

In shocking instance, the Govt of India has provided just 17 days for commenting (Submission of Comments of NPSSFW _Inland_ on the Draft NFDB Bill 2019_ with rejoinder) on Draft National Policy for Inland Fisheries (Draft_NFDB_Bill_2019). As can be seen from the comments by National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (Inland) on the draft policy, the draft policy has major lacunae. The most glaring one is the complete lack of any role for the Inland fisher people in the decision making about rivers and other water bodies in India. Every dam and hydropower project has adverse impact on the fishes and fisher people, but the impact assessment reports rarely if ever even mention such impacts, leave aside question of any rehabilitation for them or even compensating them for the losses.

This is in complete contrast to the situation in US and a number of other countries where fish and fisher people have a much bigger role. Even as millions of people depend on Inland fisheries in India, we do not have even reliable census of the people who depend on Inland fisheries. One had hoped that in new year, the situation would improve, but going by the Draft Policy, there is not too much hope on that front. The least the govt can do is to immediately accept the suggestions of the National Platform and circulate the draft in all major languages and provide three months for comment period and institute a confidence inspiring process of including such comments.

Continue reading “DRP NB 6 Jan 2020: When will Inland Fisheries get its due in decisions about rivers & other water bodies?”

Sand Mining

Goa Riverbed Mining Overview 2019: Civil Societies Form Network To Curb Mining Menace

All through the year 2019 illegal sand mining was rampant in Goa rivers despite judicial interventions. The Mandovi, Tiracal and Chapora rivers were particularly seen bearing adverse impact of unsustainable excavation. Amid worsening scenario the riverbank communities and civil societies have been making remarkable efforts to protect the rivers in the state. The work of Rainbow Warriors NGO and civil society groups who have formed the Goa River Sand Protectors network to monitor the illegal sand mining activities have truly raised hopes and shown way forward to all concerned fighting old battle against growing riverbed mining menace.

Continue reading “Goa Riverbed Mining Overview 2019: Civil Societies Form Network To Curb Mining Menace”