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 

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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”

Dams · Free flowing rivers · Riverine Literature · Rivers and Culture · Rivers in Literature

Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes: An adventure, swift as the river!

My son is twelve years old and a voracious reader. His favorites include series like Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Spy School and Space Runners. In short, nothing of the sort I read as a kid. I do not know these books and am frankly, a bit bewildered at the mix of mythology, science fiction and middle school dilemmas.

And hence, when I kept a copy of Neeraj Vagholikar’s “Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes” in his hands, I was a bit unsure. There were no kids here with gadgets, but a youth in robes studying to be a monk, his friend from Tawang and a wildlife biologist! Continue reading “Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes: An adventure, swift as the river!”

Dams · Riverine Literature · Rivers and Culture · Rivers in Literature

Riverscapes of a Lonely Poet: Jibanananda Das

Again I shall return to the Dhansiri’s banks, to this Bengal,

Not as a man, perhaps, but as a shalik bird, or a white hawk.

As, perhaps, a crow of dawn in this land of autumn’s new rice harvest,

I’ll float upon the breast of fog one day in the shade of a jackfruit tree.

Or I’ll be the pet duck of some teenaged girl — ankle bells upon her reddened feet —

I’ll spend the whole day floating on duckweed-scented waters.

Once again I’ll come, smitten by Bengal’s rivers, fields, to this

Green and kindly land of Bengal, moistened by the waves of the Jalangi.

 

Perhaps you’ll gaze at buzzards soaring, borne upon sunset breezes,

Perhaps you’ll hear a spotted owl screeching from a shimul tree branch,

Perhaps a child is strewing puffed rice on the grass of some home’s inner courtyard.

Upon the Rupsa river’s murky waters a youth perhaps steers his dinghy with

Its torn white sail—reddish clouds scud by, and through the darkness, swimming

To their nest, you’ll spot white herons. Amidst their crowd is where you’ll find me.

~ Jibananda Das, from Ruposhi Bangla (Bengal the Beautiful) Sonnet 1 Continue reading “Riverscapes of a Lonely Poet: Jibanananda Das”

Climate Change · Dams · Floods · Krishna River · Monsoon

Sangli and Narsoba Wadi: Painted Red with Record Flood levels in 2019 monsoon

Sangli, on the banks of river Krishna in Western Maharashtra faced a historic flood in Aug 2019. Nearly One Lakh people were displaced and over 30 lost their lives in this district alone. While we covered the impact of floods on the agricultural and rural fabric of Sangli in the earlier photoblogs, Sangli city with a population of more than 22 Lakhs, too suffered huge losses.

Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad Municipal Corporation is on the banks of Krishna-Warna confluence in Western Maharashtra. Both rivers reached historic High Flood Levels in the 2019 floods. Warna, in Samdoli Village, Sangli District recorded an HFL of 546.9 Meters on 09 Aug 2019, breaking all previous records. Irwin Bridge, a historic bridge built in 1929 in Sangli city, recorded a river stage that the bridge had never experienced. Sangli and the nearby region are is not new to floods and has witnessed devastating floods in 1853, 1856, 1914, 2005, 2006 and latest 2019.

Same is the story downstream. Especially in the pilgrimage center of Narsoba Wadi near Kurundwad town of Kolhapur District. Situated at the confluence of Krishna and Panchaganga, floods are not new to Narsoba Wadi. In fact, there are elaborate flood rituals, in which the deity is moved to upper precincts after each flood event. But here too, 2019 floods broke all previous records, including the 1914 HFL.

Photos, videos and brief interviews by Abhay Kanvinde (taken in September 2019), show us the extent that Krishna waters had reached and all that they had swallowed in the first two weeks of August 2019.

Continue reading “Sangli and Narsoba Wadi: Painted Red with Record Flood levels in 2019 monsoon”

Climate Change · Dam floods · Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Dams · Floods

Impacts on cropland: 2019 Maharashtra Floods

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Flood-hit districts of Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara are leading agri-producers in Maharashtra. They are also the historic sugarcane growing regions of the state. Assured water availability and rich soils have made these regions prosperous cultivators of sugarcane, grapes, bananas, groundnuts and other oilseeds like soybeans and also vegetables. Continue reading “Impacts on cropland: 2019 Maharashtra Floods”

Dams · Floods · Hydropower · Krishna River · Western Ghats

Breaching Historic Flood Levels many times over: Aftermath of Ghataprabha Floods 2019

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On the 8th August 2019, Krishna River itself and several of its tributaries in Maharashtra as well as Karnataka crossed their Highest Flood Levels at multiple places to set new records. Nowhere is it more stark than in Gokak Falls on the River Ghataprabha in Belgaum District of Karnataka. At Gokak Falls, the Highest Flood Level of the river was more than 553 meters and exceeded the earlier record by more than 5 meters! (For More Details: https://sandrp.in/2019/08/12/krishna-basin-floods-in-karnataka-the-role-of-dams/)

Abhay Kanvinde visited Gokak Falls, Hidkal Dam and villages along the Ghataprabha and Hiranyakeshi Rivers in Karnataka to understand and photo-document the impact of raging water levels on communities and ecosystems. Some interesting facts were thrown up in this trip. Mainly that 2019 Flood levels exceeded not only the 2005 and 2006 levels, but even the historic 1914 Flood levels, which are carefully marked by the British at Gokak Hydropower Station. Continue reading “Breaching Historic Flood Levels many times over: Aftermath of Ghataprabha Floods 2019”

Dams · Disasters · Floods · Krishna River · Maharashtra · Rainfall · Western Ghats

Homes in Deluge: Aftermath of Maharashtra Floods 2019

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August 2019 Floods in Sangli and Kolhapur districts of Maharashtra have been historic. River levels washed away all  past records many times over. New High Flood Levels (HFL) were reached multiple times at multiple places both in Sangli and Kolhapur. These districts, which form the fertile Black Cotton Soil belt of Maharashtra, are the floodplains of mighty rivers of the Krishna Basin: Krishna, Koyna, Warna, Panchaganga, Tarli, Urmodi, Dudhganga, Hiranyakeshi etc.

On the 8th August, Krishna breached its HFL: Highest Flood Level at two places in Maharashtra (Kurundwad and Arjunwad). On the same day, Warna and Panchaganga too crossed their HFLs at two places: Samdoli and Terwad (Kolhapur). Continue reading “Homes in Deluge: Aftermath of Maharashtra Floods 2019”

Dams · Dams, Rivers & People · Narmada

Photoblog: Rivers for Life: Narmada Rally at Badvani, July 2019

As I write this, around 1000 people are on a hunger strike in a small village on the banks of Narmada river in Badwani District, one of the most fertile and culturally rich part of Madhya Pradesh. The hunger strike which started with 5 women and leader of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Medha Patkar is now in its 6th day on Aug 31, 2019. Continue reading “Photoblog: Rivers for Life: Narmada Rally at Badvani, July 2019”

Dams · Godavari · Interlinking of RIvers · Maharashtra

From thirsty Tribal areas to Industries: Travesty of Intrabasin Transfers in Maharashtra

Above: Tribal women fetch water from a well which was supplied by the government tankers at a village in Mokhada, April 2019. This is the “Surplus” region which is supposed to transfer water to Sinnar as per the Damanganga-Upper Vaitarna-Godavari Link. Photo: PTI

Maharashtra Government is aggressively pushing Intrastate River water transfers from West flowing rivers into Godavari and Tapi Basins. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has tried to package these transfers as “Diverting water from Konkan to Drought Affected Marathwada”. This can be an eye candy for majority population, if we do not look at the details of these destructive projects.

One of the first projects coming for Stage I Environmental Clearance is about transferring water from Damanganga and Upper Vaiatarna Basins into Kadve Dam in Godavari Basin and from there to Dev Nadi in Sinnar, to provide water to Sinnar. The project, costing Rs 2700 Crores, will displace more than 4000 people, mainly tribals, submerge 8 villages and 1230 hectares of land, 179 hectares of Forest and possibly parts of Tansa Sanctuary. Continue reading “From thirsty Tribal areas to Industries: Travesty of Intrabasin Transfers in Maharashtra”