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”
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”
Late that night of July 2, shouts of “Dharan Futla, Dharan Futla” (The dam has breached!) saved the already-scared 62 year old Narayan Gaikwad and his family, as the family ran to nearby hill[i]. Tivare Dam (Longitude: 73° 42′ 0″; Latitude: 17° 36′ 0″ as per CWC’s National Register of Large Dams), across a rivulet in the Vashishthi Basin of coastal Maharashtra breached around 9.30 pm on July 2, 2019, taking 24 men, women and children with its fury.
But how many and how much of Maharashtra would be saved considering the fact that Maharashtra has India’s highest number of large dams, BY FAR? And especially considering the serious questions this episode is raising about the absolute lack of accountability of the government dam establishment.
These questions become pertinent for Konkan region of Maharashtra, where Tivare was located as this region faces highest rainfalls in the state, steepest slopes and is tainted with several incomplete, illegal, inefficient dams which are posing a risk to humans and environment. SANDRP had published a report on incomplete and illegal dams in Konkan region 3 years back[ii]. High Court, SIT Committee Report headed by Madhavrao Chitale and even CAG [iii]had singled out dams in Konkan for their inefficiency and violations at multiple levels. The situation remains the same till date. Experts and past dam bureaucrats put on record that conventional dams-and-canals approach does not work in the steep and hilly region of Konkan. Quality assurance of dams is nearly nonexistent, lighter soils are used in dam cores and even after doing all this, displacing thousands of people and submerging Western Ghats forests, “Area irrigated by Konkan dams may be less than the area submerged by them”[iv] Continue reading “Tivare Dam Disaster: Surviving in the State with maximum dams”
Just as all festivities of a fisherfolk life are connected to the river, their dreams and nightmares are riverine too.
“For several days I’ve been noticing something different in the river’s flow pattern-familiar calculation just don’t seem to hold. The current where we knew it to be slanted is now straight, where we knew it to be straight is now slanted. There is no fish. The fish leaped a little away from where I laid the net, where I expected the flow. Finally, I went near the mouth of the Kurulia Canal. Found the current there turning like a top. I couldn’t sleep and all of a sudden I had this dream, Titash has gone dry.”
– Titash Ekti Nadir Naam, Adwaita Mallabarman (1956), translated by Kalpana Bardhan [i][ii] Continue reading “River as a Companion: Titash Ekti Nadir Naam”
“Titash is a river’s name. Those living beside the river hardly know the etymological source of its name. They never tried to find out, they never felt any need to. There are rivers with significant names like Madhumati, Brahmaputra, Padma, Saraswati, Jamuna. And this one is called Titash!
No one will find its meaning in the dictionary. But is there any proof that the river might have been dearer to its people if it had a more literate, meaningful name? If a girl named Kajal-Lata is grandly renamed Baidurya Malini, her playmates will not be happy.”
“All the paths from the yards of Malo homes take them to the water of Titash. These are short paths. So short that a baby’s cry at one end can be heard by its mother at the other end. The pitter-patter of adolescent girl’s heart can be heard by the youth in their boats in the river. The only long road for them lies in the river’s midstream and it carries only boats.”
~ Titash Ekti Nadir Naam, Adwaita Mallabarman, 1956[i] Continue reading “Titash Ekti Nadir Naam: Swan Song of a River”
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””