Guest Article by Chicu Lokgariwar
“Everybody loves us Lepchas” said Tseten. He went on to explain that this affection was important to the Affected Citizens of Teesta and was a major reason that the group decided never to add violence[i] to their arsenal of techniques in their fight to save the Teesta.
The idea of non-violence being a strategic decision rather than a (purely) moral one intrigued me. I was at a meeting where several anti-dam activists from the North-Eastern states were present. As I listened to their stories, it was clear that these veterans had several lessons for those of us worried about the death of their rivers today. Each of the groups that had been compelled to fight for their rights had evolved strategies and developed tools to help them.
Sadly, the struggle against ‘development’ projects that adversely impact the lives and livelihoods of people, as well as cause irretrievable harm to the environment, continues in many places across the world. Rather than reinventing the wheel, it will be useful for young activist groups to have access to the lessons learnt by those who have preceded them. Continue reading “Fighting Destructive Dams: Lessons from the masters”
According to data from the Ministry of Mines, Maharashtra state recorded 26,628 cases of illegal mining in 2017, the highest across the country. In 2018, data up to June showed 2,751 cases. Between 2013 and 2018, 2,228 people were booked for illegal mining, one court case was filed, and 163,366 vehicles were seized. The fines collected for illegal mining over 6 years was ₹ 365 Crores.
As per another report, Maharashtra has highest number of cases of non-compliance of sustainable sand mining management guidelines, 2016. According to data submitted in the Lok Sabha, the ministry received 7 major complaints regarding non-compliance in 2017, out of which 6 were from Maharashtra and one from Himachal Pradesh. The highest number of illegal mining instances have been recorded in the state as per data by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change. It recorded around 139,700 illegal mining cases between 2013 and 2017.
Guest Blog by Manoj Misra
Apropos Sri Pravir Pandey (Vice Chairman, IWAI) article (https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/the-inland-waterways-project-won-t-choke-rivers/story-3CTflDhyTxijS5AAqlQeqO.html) in HT (The Hindustan Times) dated 24 Jan 2019 rejecting our serious reservations (https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/the-inland-waterways-project-will-destroy-india-s-rivers/story-8TDyHX1UuzQzKwWhHXQVPJ.html) expressed earlier (HT, 4 Jan 2019) on the claimed merits of the Inland Waterways Transportation (IWT) project. While welcoming IWAI’s presumed willingness to debate the matter, we reject Sri Pandey’s contentions in their entirety as having been made on rhetoric and ‘confidential’ assessments rather than on sound and convincing facts.
There are two key considerations which require attention before merit, if any, could be found in a potentially impactful project like the IWT. First are of course its financial viability and the second and much more critical are its environmental impacts.
There were just too many reasons for reading British writer Adam Weymouth’s Kings of the Yukon (US Edition by Little, Brown 2018). It is a book about the King Salmon: a fish which travels nearly 3,200 kilometers upstream the Yukon River from the Pacific Ocean to spawn and die in the same river pools where it was born. But it is also a book about free flowing Yukon River which supports the largest run of King Salmon. Continue reading “Book Review: Kings of the Yukon: “The fish did not change, we changed””
Best Advertisement of What Dam Building can do. Great Expose by NYT: “The dam sits under the glare of an active volcano, with columns of ash spewing toward the sky. Officials had warned against the dam for decades. Geologists said an earthquake could wipe it away. Now, only two years after opening, thousands of cracks are splintering the dam’s machinery. Its reservoir is clogged with silt, sand and trees.
The power channel (canal) of 330 Mw, Srinagar Hydro Electric Power (HEP) project has been leaking since December 16, 2018 affecting Surasu, Mangsu, Naur and Supana villagers in Srinagar, Uttrakhand.
Villagers were alarmed when the gushing water started reaching fields, cowsheds and some village homes. They staged a protest and demanded that canal be repaired within three days. Following complains to local MLA Vinod Kandari, a team from Uttrakhand Irrigation Department and Public Work Department (PWD) inspected the affected areas.
The Kritinagar SDM Anuradha Pal also inspected the villages and issued notices to Alaknanda Hydro Power Construction Limited (AHPCL) the developer and operator of the project. She also formed three member probe team comprising of Executive Engineers from Irrigation Department, PWD and Revenue official to look into the issue.
The landslide incident[i] on under construction Char Dham All Weather Road Project in Rudraprayag district of Uttrakhand has killed 8 labours on 21 December 2018 around 12.30 pm near Banswada in Ukhimath Bhiri area on the Rudraprayag-Gaurikund national highway (NH 107).
WhatsApp images of incident site
On 22 December 2018, body of a 19 year old worker was recovered[ii] by the rescue team. A total of 23 workers were at the site at the time of the incident. As per reports, 11 workers got buried under debris, 5 workers were critically injured while 12 others had narrow escape. All the victims[iii] are stated to be from Uri town in Baramula district of Jammu & Kashmir. As per locals, one of the JCB machine placed at the site has fallen[iv] in the river along with debris.
Man Made Disaster
The Ukhimath police has registered an FIR against a private construction company, holding it responsible for the mishap at the construction site of Char Dham all-weather road. Preliminary observations by police team has found major negligence[v] of the executive body.
As per police the work was being carried out without following the basic safety standards for the workers. The director and supervisor of the private construction firm have been booked[vi] under various sections of Indian Penal Code.
Manglesh Ghildiyal, the District Magistrate, Rudraprayag has also ordered[vii] magisterial inquiry into the incident. Jakholi SDM has been asked to submit the probe report within 10 days. Additional chief secretary of Uttarakhand, Om Prakash, has ordered a safety audit of the all-weather road construction sites to check whether the work is being done adhering to scientific norms.
The audit team will comprise of a senior geologist and a senior officer from the PWD. Some of the workers alleged that the landslide was triggered[viii] by construction work and had occurred as the mountain was being cut to widen the road.
Surprisingly about a week before the Rudraprayag landslide incidents, the DM has also found significant negligence being exercised by the Noida based RGB construction company in cutting the hill slopes. The company has not even provided helmets and insurance cover to the workers. Earlier, in June 2018 and September 2018 it was issued noticed for not following safety measures.
Rudraprayag Highly Landslide Prone Area
According to data compiled by the Uttarakhand’s Disater Mitigaton and Management Centre, 529 landslide prone areas have been identified on the Char Dham route. Rudraprayag district where the landslide occurred has the highest number of landslide zones at 319.
Local People Protesting Against The Project
The project would displace[ix] about 3000 villagers in the district. Many residents have been protesting against the project demanding fair compensation. On December 7, 2018, the local people including shopkeepers and traders closed the district and took out a massive protest rally[x]. On December 15, the protestors launched an indefinite hunger strike[xi] demanding proper rehabilitation and compensation.
Issue Pending in Supreme Court
This is one of the worst landslides so far due to the 889 km long highway project[xii] which has been broken into 52 parts to bypass the mandatory environmental clearances. The Rs 11,700 crore rupee project is ongoing despite the fact that the matter is sub-judice.
On 22 October 2018, the Supreme Court (SC) had stayed[xiii] National Green Tribunal (NGT) order clearing the two lane highway project. During 26 November 2018 hearing the SC has asked the Centre to file its reply[xiv] within two weeks.
Another Landslide Caused By Char Dham Road Project
Meanwhile, Char Dham All Weather Road Project creates another landslide on Dec. 22, this time on Badrinath Rishikesh Highway near Farasu Mandoli village in Srinagar. The work is damaging the roads causing difficulties for local commuters who are also getting injured during night time. People say debris and stones are falling continuously disrupting the traffic for hours.
Compiled by SANDRP (email@example.com)
Despite SC orders muck dumping in Alaknanda River continues on Badrinath NH. Similarly many villages along the slope on Chamba Rishikesh highway are affected due to muck dumping says the Amar Ujala 16 Dec. 2018 report.
The local Hindi dailies (between 15-25 Dec. 2018) are replete with reports revealing serious negligence and violation of norms in execution of the project leading to fatal landslides across the state.
It was a freak accident. But it meant that I had to travel every week from Austin to Brooke Army Medical Center, some 75 miles away. These were not enjoyable trips and one of the solace was a sign on the highway: “San Marcos River Recreational Areas: Turn Right”. I used to wonder what will happen if we actually turn right someday. A river with parks around it maybe? Or trails along a flowing river? The thought always made the journey slightly more palatable. Continue reading “Sacred Origins: Spring Lake and San Marcos River of Texas”
This multi-media report by Siddharth Agarwal based on a walk along the majestic Ken River in central India, now part of a contentious river-linking project, shows how essential it is to the communities living around it.
The idea of walking along a river has many key reasons, but the most important of them is to interact, discuss with and document the life of the actual stakeholders of this natural system. Traversing flood plains and riverbanks on foot takes us right where the story is, not in a far removed space, where even a few kilometres away from it can be a major shift. Location plays a wonderful role in rejigging memory and helps people imagine past situations. The discussions on the scale of the importance of a river suddenly have a realism and depth.