How one fish and many people saved a river
“Hark! What is that? What is that sound? It is laughter, bubbling up from the heart of the darkness. It is the sound of water! There is no doubt. The water of Muktadhara is free!”
As I stepped on the wooden slats across the joyously gurgling Tirthan River, I remembered Rabindranath Tagore’s lines from his first play, Muktadhara (Free-flowing). I was in the Himalayas to listen to the story of Tirthan, a Muktadhara in her own right! Tirthan is the rarest, possibly the only river valley in India to be declared as a “No-Go Valley” for hydropower or dam development, protected in perpetuity.
Continue reading “Muktadhara Tirthan“
In the ongoing Covid crisis, accessible green, open spaces are a dream for many city dwellers. And yet, there is burgeoning work on the profound positive impacts of urban green spaces on the physiological and psychological health of city dwellers.
Despite being polluted, dammed, encroached and thwarted, rivers continue to be free and open public places. Today more than ever, rivers, riverbanks, floodplains and bridges are an invaluable resource for any Indian City. This momentous service is ignored in our riverfront development projects, metro and road plans and city development plans which encroach upon rivers. Continue reading “Of Peace and Pollution: Urban Rivers as Public Spaces”
This photoblog by Abhay Kanvinde takes us to mangroves of Aghanashini River Estuary in Kumta Taluk of Uttar Kannada, Karnataka. This is a special place as Aghanashini is a free flowing river with good forest cover in its entire catchment. This means that the mangroves get unhindered supply of freshwater as well as nutrients from the riverine system. This has resulted in the highest area under mangroves in Honnavar Forest Division at 169.4 hectares. Forest Department has also planted about 6 sq. kms of mangroves here, which are thriving. Continue reading “Photoblog: Mangroves of the Aghanashini: Linking the River, Land and the Sea”
(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.””
“The banks of my pleasant Ichhamati are dotted with tiny villages, wild flowers, green trees and bird nests. In the past five hundred years, so many fishermen have cast their nets in the river, so many houses have been built, so many babies came in the arms of their mothers to take a dip in the river and then in the old age found their last bed near the cool waters of the river. I can visualise the countless who have approached this peaceful river bank through centuries. I shall write a story of about all this. This story shall be called Ichhamati.”
~ Diaries of Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Circa 1940s Continue reading “Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s Ichhamati: River of Epiphanies”
The State will now seek a Rs. 4,300-crore package for providing succour to over 16,000 drought-affected villages. Earlier State Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Eknath Khadse had declared over 14,708 villages drought-affected. He now said that the State’s assessment by October 31 showed that drought-like conditions also prevailed in 1,420 villages in Buldhana district in Vidarbha, and they would be added to the list of drought-affected villages.
Continue reading “Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin 09 Nov 2015 (Maharashtra Drought-1420 more villages included in affected list)”
People of a village in Morigaon district of Assam fish in groups to celebrate ‘Kati Bihu’ on Sunday. The festival is closely related to agriculture, celebrated on the first day of the Kati month of the Assamese calendar. It is that time of the year when paddy grows in the fields and cultivators work hard for a good harvest.— Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar, The Hindu
Continue reading “Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin Nov 02, 2015 (Festival Fishing on occasion of Kati Bihu in Assam)”
Tamirabarani teaches: Saving tiger is saving river After Kalakkad-Mundanthurai was declared tiger reserve in 1992, Tamirabarani river has regained its perennial status. Though shorter than Cauvery and Vaigai, Tamirabarani has always held a special place in the state. It started turning dry for four months every year. People of Tirunelveli and Tuticorin thought their river too was going the way of other state rivers. But a move to save the tiger inadvertently became a save the-river policy. The Union ministry of environment and forests declared the Kalakkad – Mundanthurai area as a tiger reserve in 1992. In three years, there was a noticeable change. A study on water inflow into the Karayar river, a tributary, inside the reserve was taken up. Records show that from 1946 till 1990, the river received only 13,000 cubic feet of water annually. After the area was declared as a tiger reserve, the inflow increased to 23,000 cubic feet.
Continue reading “Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin Oct 26, 2015 (Saving Tigers is Saving Rivers, Story of once dry Tamirabarani River )”
Hydro fast loosing sheen in renewable energy basket and the share of hydro is likely to decline further as through the past three years, the installed capacity of hydropower projects has remained around 40,000 Mw. While the report superficially may appear as a sigh of relief nevertheless on ground Indian Govt. is still in a hurry to push many big hydro power projects particularly in North-Eastern States. Last month only Piyush Goyal Power Minister cleared the Teesta-III and spoke of clearing Subansiri too. In Siang basin Pauk, Heo, Tato-I are recently approved by MoEF Panel. Protest against 780 Nyamjang Chhu HEP is going on. Similarly several projects in Ganga, Barhamputra and Satluj basin are being cleared and constructed in plain violation of stipulated green norms. Public and private developers are repeatedly ignoring environmental concerns and not addressing the issues raised by local people.
Continue reading “Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin, Oct 05, 2015 (On Climate Agenda Govt. scale down targets but on ground still pushing hard many hydro projects)”
Rohan Chakraborty’s cartoon on the threat from 780 MW Nyamjang Chhu hydel project to Black- necked Cranes revered by the Buddhist Monpas of Tawang.
UTTARAKHAND: Hydro Power companies, BRO, PWD still dumping debris in Uttarakhand rivers, forest department under pressure as administration and judiciary stand in defence of culprits MOST SHOCKING STATE OF AFFAIRS IN UTTARAKHAND HYDRO AND RIVERS: “SS Rasailey, director of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve said, “BRO and PWD have been throwing all the road construction-related garbage into the rivers on a regular basis. Similarly, companies behind the THDC run Pipalkoti-Vishnuprayag and NTPC-run Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel projects have been doing this as well, despite the fact that all of them have to dispose waste on a separate piece of land as per the guidelines. While they show that they are following the rules on paper, in reality they don’t.” Rasailey added that while forest officials have taken up this issue, filing cases and even getting the people arrested for alleged waste disposal in Chamoli district, they have not received cooperation from the administration or the judiciary in prosecuting the big companies which are among the violators.
This story sheds light on the plight of people displaced by Tehri Dam as thousands of them are still waiting for proper compensation and rehabilitation. The woes of the displaced people never end. Himangshu Thakkar of SANDRP, who has been working on issues associated with large dams, warned of playing with rivers, “With dams, our politicians are inviting disaster and playing with the lives of people, the Himalayas, the Ganges and future generations. They didn’t learn anything from the June 2013 disaster”.
ARUNACHAL PRADESH MoEFCC massive clearance spree of Arunachal hydro power projects bound to have repercussions as there have been no public consultations in Arunachal Pradesh or Assam. Surprisingly, Subansiri river basin study was not even listed among the 14 subjects that were placed for discussion. However, this did not stop the Committee from taking a decision to go ahead with 26 projects. On 3097 MW Etalin by Jindal group on Dibang, the EAC has recommended primary surveys only in monsoon, not in winter and pre-monsoon, which experts say is an attempt to enable faster clearances while compromising ecological and social security as lot of use of areas by people and wildlife is in winter and pre-monsoon, not just monsoon.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin, Sep 21, 2015: Buddhist Monpas, Black-necked Cranes & Nyamjang Chhu Project”