Betwa River

Photo blog: Walking Upstream the River-The Betwa and its people

Guest Blog by Mohit M Rao

The impetuous flow of River Betwa is the lodestar for Astha Choudhary and Mohit M. Rao, who for the first 14 days of December 2019, walk from the historic city of Orccha to the confluence of Betwa and Bina rivers. The walk, as part of Veditum’s Moving Upstream fellowship, traverses through forests, endless fields of florescent-green wheat fields, overflowing streams and the rocky banks of the river. Fueling the 270-km journey is the kindness of villagers along the way.

The map below depicts the walking route, stretching to some 270-km, from Orccha to Padoccha in the South where the Betwa and Bina rivers converge. The 14 day journey saw us halt in the friendly homes of villagers or in temples or religious institutions for the night. Three major dams and two barrages were seen along the way. The photo story aims to encapsulate the landscape, its forests and the joys and concerns of the riparian communities for whom River Betwa is a lifeline. Continue reading “Photo blog: Walking Upstream the River-The Betwa and its people”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 6 April 2020: Ganga-Yamuna-Cauvery flow cleaner in lockdown: What can we learn?

A number of reports have appeared that show that the state of a number of rivers of India, including Hindon, Yamuna, Ganga and Cauvery has improved during the current lockdown due to Covid 19 crisis. That is indeed great news. At Kanpur and Varanasi there are reports that suggest the dissolved oxygen level has gone above 8 ppm and BOD level has gone down below 3 ppm at a number of places. While lack of industrial effluents entering the rivers due to closure of industrial units is a major reason, there are other reasons that has led to this situation, including above average winter rainfall, high snowfall now melting with onset of summer, reduction of irrigation water demand and also stoppage of sand mining along the rivers. The reduction of cultural activities including puja, bathing and cremations have also contributed to this situation.

The biggest lesson we can learn from this cleaner rivers after so many decades is that if our pollution control boards at the state and central level were doing their duty to ensure that no untreated effluents from the industries and also urban sewage enter the rivers, it is not that difficult to achieve cleaner rivers. But unfortunately there is no political will to achieve this simple and legally enforceable objective.

Continue reading “DRP NB 6 April 2020: Ganga-Yamuna-Cauvery flow cleaner in lockdown: What can we learn?”

Bihar · Rivers

How did Champa Nadi (river in Bhagalpur, Bihar) become Nala (drain)?

Guest Blog by Dr. Ruchi Shree

Champanagar, a small suburb in Bhagalpur district of Bihar derived its name from a river named Champa. However, in the last three decades or so the river has reached in such a state that it is called nala (drain) by the local people. Even the administration uses the term ‘nala’ for the river and this narrative is an attempt to explore this shift i.e. how Champa ‘nadi’ became ‘nala’.  To me, Bhagalpur is a new place as I joined a workplace here merely four months back but due to my interest in ‘politics of water’, I got curious in a campaign titled ‘kahan gum ho gayi Champa’ being carried out by a Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran in November, 2019. Following the newspaper reports, I was interested in exploring the change in this narrative. I intend to write three to four pieces in this series (viz. problems faced by the rivers, the prospects of river rejuvenation, etc.)  in near future and the first part will focus on significance of this river for this region. The series could also be seen as an attempt to understand the history of the city through its rivers or water bodies in general and Bhagalpur as a city in particular. Continue reading “How did Champa Nadi (river in Bhagalpur, Bihar) become Nala (drain)?”

Dams · Yamuna River

Yamuna Jayanti 2020: Bridges-Connecting People, Disconnecting River?

Bridges are essential infrastructure for human and cargo mobility across a river. They have also allowed us stop over and gaze on the beauty of flowing water streams without any risk of getting drowned or getting ourselves drenched in water. More and more bridges are being built on rivers without understating their impacts. There is hardly any debate or discussion on governance and decision making process or minimum distances to be maintained between two bridges or limiting the number of bridges on given stretch, considering what the river can support. This report takes a look at the situation of bridges on river Yamuna and describes few examples how they have been impacting the river eco-system. 

Continue reading “Yamuna Jayanti 2020: Bridges-Connecting People, Disconnecting River?”

Dams · Fish Sanctuaries · Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk · Free flowing rivers · Karnataka · Western Ghats · Wetlands · Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

People of the free-flowing Aghanashini

“I don’t know my age. But I know that I have been coming to this river since I was a child everyday to collect bivalves.” Janaki Amma told us while wading waist-deep in the Aghanashini estuary. Janaki Amma is at least 70 years old and has the agility of a ballet dancer as she plunges inside the limpid water one more time, and comes up with a new haul of bivalves in a wicker basket tied to her waist.

On the banks of the river, Thulasi and Sumitra sit laughing on an old wooden boat, as only old friends can. They collect bivalves too. They have never seen the river not having the shiny, black bivalves. Throughout Aghanashini Estuary, we hear this again and again: fisherfolk and rice farmers, priests and devotees, older women and solid middle-aged men: all echoing the sentiment: “Our lives are entwined with the river.” Continue reading “People of the free-flowing Aghanashini”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 30 March 2020: Chilika has fishing cat & otters, but why we know so little about aquatic biodiversity?

There is some good news this week. A survey has found existence of fishing cat and two otter species in Chilika lake – this was not known so far. However, this also underlines how little we know about India’s aquatic biodiversity in our rivers, lakes and deltas. Its high time we have authentic baseline survey across India, hopefully in participation with the local communities who would already know so much about this. And may be rather urgently, once we are through with the current Covid-19 Crisis.

Continue reading “DRP NB 30 March 2020: Chilika has fishing cat & otters, but why we know so little about aquatic biodiversity?”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 23 March 2020: Welcome SC order asks for fresh EIA: Will Judiciary be equally strong against all fraudulent EIAs?

The Supreme Court order asking for fresh environment clearance and fresh Environment Impact Assessment for the Peripheral Ring Road project in Bengaluru is remarkable and most welcome, even though it is not directly related to water issues. The order is relevant since we have yet to find what can be called an honest Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for River Valley Projects and yet the MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley Projects happily clears ALL the projects that come their way, even with most fraudulent EIAs. We are hoping against hope that this apex Court judgement will be a precursor to many such orders and judgements and general warning against fraudulent EIAs and EACs. We hope it is not too much to ask that the EIA be an honest effort and the EAC that does not reject fraudulent EIAs should also be dumped and members black listed. We hope we have such orders from the judiciary soon.

Continue reading “DRP NB 23 March 2020: Welcome SC order asks for fresh EIA: Will Judiciary be equally strong against all fraudulent EIAs?”

Dams · Water

World Water Day 2020: Positive Stories from Rural India

The theme for the World Water Day 2020 is ‘Water and Climate Change’. The changing climate has disrupted the water cycle in a number of ways.

The rural areas in India have facing increasing water crisis due to mismanagement, top down government projects, unequal distribution of available resources and now also climate change. However there are several individuals, groups and government initiatives that have led improvement in the situation. We have presented positive water stories from farmers and urban India in earlier WWD 2020 articles. This last compilation in the series presents the positive water actions reported from different rural areas of country in past one year, beginning with top five positive water stories.   Continue reading “World Water Day 2020: Positive Stories from Rural India”

Dams · Urban Water Sector · Water

World Water Day India 2020: Top Positive Urban Stories

The theme for World Water Day 2020 is ‘Water and Climate Change’. Indeed the changing climate has been altering the earth weather system including disrupting the water cycle.

Urban areas in India are facing increasingly severe water crisis due to mismanagement of available resources, urban flooding due to blockage and encroachments of drainage channels, pollution of water sources on account of increasing solid and liquid waste. However, there are individual, civil society group and government efforts which have been helping ameliorate the situation with rain water harvesting, pond revival, wells restoration among others. Here is a compilation of positive urban water stories from for World Water Day 2020. 

Continue reading “World Water Day India 2020: Top Positive Urban Stories”

Dams · Water

World Water Day India 2020: Top Positive Stories from Farmers

The theme for World Water Day 2020 is ‘Water and Climate Change’. Indeed the changing climate has been altering the weather system in multiple ways.  Extreme weather events like flash floods, intense heat, prolonged droughts, intense cold spells striking different parts of the world are increasingly being linked to the climate change. Changing water cycle is a major consequence. The farmers are among the most affected, facing all kinds of water problems including droughts, scarcity, flooding, hail storms, cyclones, unseasonal rains and pollution.

Several initiatives are being taken by the farmers, civil society groups to find right solutions to the water challenges, many of which have brought positive changes. Here we have compiled some such positive water options from the past one year. We hope this can encourage us to look for such community driven water options.

Continue reading “World Water Day India 2020: Top Positive Stories from Farmers”