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”
Press Release Oct 30, 2017
National Green Tribunal Admits Appeal Challenging
Environment Clearance to Ken Betwa Project:
No claim of equity for work done during pendency of application
The Principle Bench of National Green Tribunal on Oct 27, 2017 admitted a comprehensive Appeal (No 33 of 2017) challenging the Environment Clearance to Phase I of Ken Betwa River Linking Project. The order of the Bench comprising of Hon’ble Justice Swatanter Kumar (Chairperson of NGT), Hon’ble Justice Jawad Rahim (Judicial Member) and Hon’ble Bikram Singh Sajwan (Expert Member) on Oct 27, 2017 (available on Oct 28, 2017) noted: “Learned Counsel for the respective respondents accepts notice and prays for time to file reply. Copy of the application be furnished during the course of the date. Let the reply to be filed within two weeks from today and rejoinder within two weeks thereafter. List the mater on 27th November, 2017.” Ritwick Dutta, Rahul Choudhary and Meera Gopal are the lawyers representing the petition. Continue reading “NGT Admits Appeal Challenging Environment Clearance to Ken Betwa Project”
Above: Ken River in Panna district (Photo by SANDRP)
In a series of letters that then collector of Panna district wrote when she was collector of this Bundelkhand district for close to three and a half years, she made startling conclusion that Ken river has no surplus water, if the basic water needs of people of Ken Basin residents are fulfilled. The documents that SANDRP has now received show that during her tenure as Panna collector between 2005 and 2008, she fought hard to stop the Ken Betwa project. She showed that if the Madhya Pradesh’s own water resources master plan of 1983 were to be implemented in Ken Basin, there would be no water left for export to Betwa basin. An exasperated IAS officer ultimately had to conclude that the Ken Betwa project “holds disastrous implications for the residents of Panna district as also other districts of the Ken river basin.” Continue reading ““Ken Betwa Project is Disaster for Ken Basin People, there is NO surplus water in Ken Basin”: Panna Collector”
“Oh my god! I wont have believed that such an amazingly beautiful river canyon exists in India had I not seen this!” These were my first words, believe or not, on seeing Raneh Falls earlier this year. It was such mesmerizingly beautiful scene that I could not believe no one has even mentioned that this whole site is likely to be destroyed by the proposed Ken Betwa Project (KWP).
In fact, there are Amazing number of untold stories of the destruction that the proposed Ken Betwa link will cause. One of them is the story of Raneh Falls. The name is a bit of misnomer, but let us stick to it. Continue reading “Ken Betwa Project to destroy Raneh Falls: India’s Mini Grand Canyon-cum- Mini Niagra”
ABOVE: A fabulous view of Ken river. Nesting sites of Long-billed vultures are to the right. All will go under water if Ken-Betwa linkup is carried out, Photo by AJT Johnsingh
On Sept 1, 2017, Reuters published a report[i] about Interlinking of Rivers, with focus on Modi flagging off work on Ken Betwa Project. The report was carried VERY widely, including in local, national and international media. [This note was sent as a letter to a number of persons at Reuters and Thomson Reuters on Sept 2, 2017, there has been no response so far as I publish this several hours later.]
Unfortunately, it’s a biased, very misleading, erroneous report with factual inaccuracies that one does not expect in a Reuters report. Continue reading “REUTER’s biased, misleading, erroneous reporting about Ken Betwa Project”
Above: Ken Yamuna Confluence at Chilla Ghat (Photo by Siddharth Agarwal)
We are thankful & glad that Dr Sharad Jain has responded to our open letter to MoEF, circulated through email and blog[i] that he holding the charge of NWDA Director General and Chairman of Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley and Hydropower Projects (RVP) involves Conflict of Interest. We are also thankful that through the Indian Express report (on June 3, 2017), he has provided another set of answers.
Unfortunately, Dr Jain, all this only expose our lack of basic understanding as to WHAT CONSTITUTES CONFLICT OF INTEREST. You have failed in trying to defend the indefensible, and we would rather urge you to resign as we continue this debate. Continue reading “Thanks, Dr Sharad Jain: But Plz step down from EAC: Let us understand Conflict of Interest!”
Above: Part of proposed Ken-Betwa link submergence area (Photo by Joanna Van Gruisen)
Shri. Anil Madhav Dave
Honourable Minister of State (Independent Charge),
Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC)
Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh Road, New Delhi – 110003
May 2, 2017
Please consider this joint letter (See PDF file with logos here: Letter to MoEF Ken Betwa 020517) from an informal coalition of environment and wildlife organisations as a collective note of protest against the proposed Ken-Betwa River Link Project. Continue reading “Open Letter of Protest on Ken Betwa Project to MoEF”
Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave on January 5, 2017 reportedly told a meeting called by his ministry of non-official members of statutory bodies like expert appraisal committees and forest advisory committee, “How can we hold up development and not fulfill the needs of the poor for the sake of birds and animals?” This is of course a shocking statement to come from a minister whose mandate is to protect environment!
No less disturbingly, even as an environment minister, he has several times advocated pushing the Ken Betwa River Link Project (KBLRP) as a pilot scheme, when the project does not have any of the final clearances from his own Ministry! Continue reading “Little for Bundelkhand, lot for contractors in Ken Betwa river-link”
December 27, 2016
Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation,
Govt of India,
Copy to Ministers of State (MoWR), Secretary (MOWR), OSD (MoWR), PS to MoWR
Respected Uma Bharati ji,
Continue reading “Ken Betwa Link: Letter to Water Resources Minister and EAC in Dec 2016”
Indeed, Rivers, including the Inter Linking of Rivers (ILR) needs democracy, in which dialogue is the starting point. The government, with all its powers, mandate and resources, needs to initiate this. Particularly when the government has taken such an ideological, fundamentalist position on ILR. So much so that the Union Minister says that anyone opposing the project is committing a national crime. And even goes to the extent of threatening even statutory regulators if the controversial Ken Betwa River Link proposal is not cleared in next meeting! That very minister is scheduled to conclude the “dialogue” of Aug 6, 2016 (to be held during 4-7 pm at Constitutional Club Rafi Marg, Delhi), is ironical to say the least. [As I was writing this, I got a call from Ms Uma Bharti ji’s home saying that she won’t be able to come for the meeting today as she is down with high fever. I hope she recovers soon and fully.] Continue reading “Rivers and ILR need democracy: There is none today; BUT THIS AUG 6 MEETING IS NO DIALOGUE”