When I was documenting a tiny, free-flowing river in Maharashtra Western Ghats named Shastri, the common thread from headwaters to estuary was Fishing! It was everywhere, in all forms, including dozens of fish species and fishing practices, including everyone: men, women, children, otters, crocs, storks. Across the country, buzzing, diversified fisheries with old, complex narratives indicate a rich river. And the palette just gets more vivid, nuanced and colorful with the size of the river.
More than 10 million Indians from some of the most vulnerable groups depend on rivers for their livelihood and nutritional needs. This staggering number can be an underestimate as several riverine fisherfolk do not bring their produce to the market and our livelihood census hardly captures the intricacies of riverine fisheries sector. Despite the huge dependence and critical importance of riverine fisheries, the sector continues being ignored and abused. The reasons behind the exploitation are at the heart of a deeper, more troubling discourse: ownership and appropriation of the river as a natural resource. Continue reading “Riverine Fisherfolk as Mascots of flowing rivers and how 4 projects treat them today”
(Above: Protest outside MoEF on Oct 24, 2017 when EAC met to consider EC for Pancheshwar Project)
Oct 23, 2017
Chairman and Members, Expert Appraisal Committee (River Valley Projects), Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Jor Bagh, New Delhi
Respected Chairman and Members,
The agenda of the EAC (for RVP) to be held on Oct 24, 2017, put up on the EC website only on Oct 18, 2017, just six days before the EAC meeting includes the 5040 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose project (PMP), India’s largest proposed hydropower projects. The agenda should be available at least ten days before the meeting, and this should also be a reason for not considering the Pancheshwar project by EAC for its meeting on Oct 24. Moreover agenda mentions 5600 MW Pancheshwar project, where as the capacity as per EIA is 5040 MW. Is MoEF just callous in mentioning wrong installed capacity or has the capacity gone up? In either case, the 5040 MW Pancheshwar project should not be on EAC agenda. Continue reading “Letter to MoEF’s Expert Committee: Why Pancheshwar Project should not be considered for Environment Clearance”
New Draft Guidelines designed to privatise & destroy Groundwater The Ministry of Water Resources of the Union Government has on Oct 11, 2017 (see notice: http://www.wrmin.nic.in/forms/List.aspx?lid=1180&Id=6) put up draft guidelines on Groundwater management in India (see draft Guidelines: http://www.wrmin.nic.in/writereaddata/guideline-NOC-CGWA.pdf), with comment period of 60 days. The comments are to be sent to: Member Secretary, Central Ground Water Authority, West Block-2, Wing 3 (Ground Floor), Sector 1, RK Puram, New Delhi – 110066, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Draft Groundwater guidelines designed to destroy groundwater further and open floodgates for privatisation of common property resource? “Groundwater is a common property resource and should be used for greater good. But these guidelines are not doing that. Groundwater governance and management should happen in a transparent, participatory and accountable way but that too is not happening through guidelines,” Thakkar said.
Explaining, Thakkar said that the guidelines are “trying to make a system wherein state or district level authorities will be giving NOCs but whether those authorities have capacity to give NOCs after understanding the implications is the question.” “The draft guidelines also take out the need to recharge groundwater. Present regulations say that you if you take out groundwater you need to put in recharge capacity but now they are saying that’s not necessary and are only seeking charges. These things will definitely lead to further destruction of groundwater,” he added. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/irx1jFCWMFjGJk82Z8VZ2O/Govt-proposes-new-guidelines-on-groundwater-usage-by-industr.html, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/oct/13/centre-proposes-water-conservation-fee-for-use-of-groundwater-1673480.html, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/oct/14/townships-with-gym-club-must-pay-water-fee-1673790.html, http://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/centre-proposes-nixing-recharge-requirement-for-industries-extracting-groundwater/story-kN3iPmO9m4MIoYkUX32n7I.html Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 16 October 2017: New Groundwater Guidelines threat to India’s Water Lifeline”
Above: The Bhagirathi valley has a lot of beautiful bends, comparable to the most popular scenic spots across the world. But we’re busy cutting down the mountain to make broader roads in these eco-sensitive areas. Image taken in March 2017. Photo credits: Siddharth Agarwal
Guest Blog by Siddharth Agarwal
In the initial stages of planning the Moving Upstream project on the Ganga for Veditum, where we were going to walk along the whole length of the river, I had approached a lot of individuals to learn from their experiences about the river and the many connected stories around it. These learnings varied from science and activism to adventure and survival. Of all those who were approached, Himanshu Thakkar from SANDRP had been the most generous in extending knowledge resources and sharing contacts from the field. He even entertained a couple of my visits to their office and shared with me a copy of the SANDRP report prepared by Theo, called Headwater Extinctions (February 2014, see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/new-publication-headwater-extinctions-impact-of-hydropower-projects-on-fish-and-river-ecosystems-in-upper-ganga-and-beas-basins/, it includes link to full report), along with a few other documents.
Headwater Extinctions looks at the role played by small and large hydropower projects in altering the fish biodiversity and river ecosystems in the Himalayan reaches of the Ganga and Beas basins. It also speaks about the perspective of local people and that of the authorities towards hydropower projects. Theo, who is an adventurer and ecologist, penned down the report with a scientific aptitude, while I will limit myself here in this revisit report to updated observations made on ground while walking along the Ganga in Uttarakhand (March 2017). This comparative observation will hopefully enable a conversation that requires continuity. Continue reading “Walking along Ganga in Uttarakhand in 2017”
Above: Map showing interventions in Assi River in Varanasi (INTACH)
REPORT TO DIVISIONAL COMMISSIONER, VARANASI
On INTACH’s Pilot Project on Assi Nadi [24th Jan/17 – 26th Feb/17]
Guest Blog by Manu Bhatnagar, INTACH
- INTACH is a national non-profit organization, a registered society under Society’s Act since 1984, having the Secretaries of the GoI Ministries of Environment, Forest & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Culture, DG [ASI] and DG [NM] on its Governing Council with its accounts duly audited by the Office of CAG.
- High pollution load in holy River Ganga at Varanasi is due to domestic wastewater flowing into the river through 33 nallahs and rivulets. Sewerage systems and treatment plants are going to take several years to be in place and effective. In the meantime the river will continue to remain polluted. Based on its experience in Delhi and Agra INTACH has initiated a one month pilot project for cleaning wastewater flow in Assi Nadi using the process of bacterial bioremediation.
Continue reading “INTACH pilot project reduces Assi River Pollution in Varanasi by 70% in two months, at least cost, without any structures”
Ganga Basin, particularly Bihar is facing unprecedented floods, starting on Aug 12, 2017. Water levels of Major tributaries of Ganga, including Kosi, Mahananda, Rapti, Ghagra, Bagmati, Gandak and Kamlabalan are close to or above the historically highest flood levels almost simultaneously. This has rarely happened in the past. The water level of Ghagra is close to HFL at Elgine Bridge in Barabanki district in Uttar Pradesh. Most other flood forecasting sites in North Bihar and East UP were shown as pink dots on CWC flood forecasting map on Aug 13-15, signifying that water level at these sites was above the danger level. This is possibly the beginning, this wave is expected to rise as it travels down towards Bihar and then W Bengal and Bangladesh. Continue reading “Ganga basin faces unprecedented floods in Aug 2017”
SANDRP BLOG: Brahmaputra basin to face unprecedented floods starting Aug 12, 2017: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/08/12/brahmaputra-basin-faces-unprecedented-flood-wave-in-aug-2017/
North Bengal Flood situation “Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling are the five districts which have been affected by the flood. Earlier in the day, Irrigation Minister Rajib Banerjee said that the state government is tackling the flood in north Bengal on war footing.” 58,000 people had been affected in Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts.
MAY BE IF THEY WOKE TWO DAYS EARLIER WHEN NASA MAP CLEARLY SHOWED THE HEAVY RAINFALL HAVING ALREADY OCCURRED, THEY MAY NOT HAVE HAD TO TACKLE IT ON WAR FOOTING AND A LOT OF DAMAGE COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED? http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/flood-situation-worsening-in-north-bengal-says-mamata-banerjee-1736993 Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 14 August 2017 East & North East India face flooded Independence day”
Finally on World Environment Day, Swami Shivanand has withdrawn[I] his fast unto death agitation. It was thirteenth day of his indefinite hunger strike including six days of water fast (from May 25 – 30, 2017) against illegal mining in Ganga.
The saint ended his protest around 6pm on June 05, 2017, only after receiving written assurance from the Central Government. As per information, referring to Matri Sandan repeated pleas, UP Singh Director General of National Mission for Clean Ganga has accepted that there were violations[II] of rules specially Rule No. V of Environment Protection Act during mining in Ganga. Subsequently he has asked Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board initiate criminal proceedings against the officials[III] concerned for non-compliance of the rules.
Continue reading “About Matri Sadan Fight Against Illegal Mining In River Ganga “
Guest Blog by: Chicu Lokgariwar
It’s a girl! And another girl!
On March 20 2017, the High Court of Uttarakhand in an unforeseen move, bestowed ‘legal personhood’ on the Ganga and the Yamuna. Ten days later, as people were still trying to understand the implications of this order, the Court declared the glaciers, lakes, and wetlands of these basins as legal persons. What does this mean exactly?
The decree: As per an order passed on 20th March 2017, while ruling on a public interest litigation filed by Mohammed Salim against the State of Uttarakhand, the High Court has declared the entire length of the Ganga and the Yamuna, including their tributaries to be juristic persons.
The order states, ‘..the Rivers Ganga and Yamuna, all their tributaries, streams, every natural water flowing with flow continuously or intermittently of these rivers, are declared as juristic/legal persons/living entities having the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person in order to preserve and conserve river Ganga and Yamuna.’
Continue reading “The Sad State Of These Persons Called Ganga & Yamuna – Can State Protect Them?”
Guest Blog by Nandini Oza
My recent visit to Varanasi in March 2017 was with a lot of expectations for more than one reason. Varanasi is situated on the majestic Ganga and located between the two rivers Varuna and Asi with Gomti – Ganga sangam (confluence) not far away. Naturally Varanasi would be of interest to any person interested in rivers and water. The Government has also announced the ambitious Namami Gange program which is essentially a national mission for cleaning of the river Ganga. The Government has also declared building of waterways through more than hundred rivers across the country and all the three rivers of Varanasi, the Ganga, Varuna and Asi are a part of this project. Besides, Varanasi being Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s constituency for three years now, he takes personal interest in its development through several programmes like Swatch Bharat Abhiyan, Namami Gange and so on. This visit was therefore to familiarise myself with the ground situation, issues and recent developments and I share my impressions here. I also share some of the discussions I had with local groups and individuals of the holy city of Banaras.
Continue reading “Varanasi, God’s Own Land”