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”

Assam · brahmaputra · Floods

The floods of Jiadhal River in Assam

Guest blog by Sazzad Hussain

Late Kartik Pegu, grandfather of Bipin Pegu of Jiadhal Chariali village under Dhemaji Revenue Circle of Dhemaji district in northeast Assam prepared his own burial site during early 1970s on the bank of Jiadhal River. The site, a paddy field, has been owned by the Patir family of the village near the railway bridge over the river. Kartik Pegu was buried there when he died in 1976 and a tombstone was built in his memory. After that in 1985 Bilapson Pegu, Bipin’s father, too was buried on the same site and another tombstone was placed in his memory close to that of Kartik Pegu. Now Bipin Pegu (47), a college graduate and a local peasant with three children wishes him to be buried on the same plot of land when he dies. But on the evening of 16 September, 2019, his wishes for final rest close to his near and dear ones were shattered when Jiadhal River suddenly surged with overflowing water submerging the tombstones of Bipin’s immediate ancestors. He has never seen them being under water so far. Continue reading “The floods of Jiadhal River in Assam”

Chambal · Dam floods

Man made National Crisis at Gandhi Sagar Dam in Sept 2019

Its not everyday that Government of India’s National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) meets. It’s even rarer when the NCMC meets to deal with issues related to a dam. And that too on a Sunday.

The National Crisis So when on Sunday, Sept 15, 2019, the Cabinet Secretary chaired the NCMC meeting[i] to discuss the issues surrounding the Gandhi Sagar Dam on Chambal river in Madhya Pradesh (close to Rajasthan border) and called it a National Crisis, it signified how serious was the situation. Continue reading “Man made National Crisis at Gandhi Sagar Dam in Sept 2019”

Dam floods · Kali River · Karnataka

Unprecedented Dam flood situation in Uttara Kannada in Aug 2019

The New Indian Express published a most remarkable report on Aug 24, 2019[i]. It said, among other things: The district administration of Uttara Kannada will seek an inquiry report from the managing director of Karnataka Power Corporation Limited on untimely release of water from Kadra dam to Kali River, which caused flood in Kadra, Mallapur, Kaiga township, Hanakon, Kharge Jooga island, Kinnar, Siddar, Vailawada and many villages in Karwar taluk in the first week of August. 5,000 people from these villages were shifted to rehabilitation centres in Karwar and other villages. Half of the Kaiga township was inundated and employees of Kaiga Atomic Power Station had to use boats to reach the nuclear power plants… The district administration was not informed about the increasing inflow into Kadra dam and outflow into the river. Finally, DC Harish Kumar K, ZP CEO M Roshan and then SP Vinayak Patil camped in Kadra and took over the control of the dam due to the failure of dam officials. They managed the outflow of the dam for a couple of days. Deputy Commissioner Harish Kumar K said the district administration will write to KPCL MD seeking an inquiry on water released from dams to Kali river.” Continue reading “Unprecedented Dam flood situation in Uttara Kannada in Aug 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”

Ganga · Ramganga

Ramganga West – A Ganga Tributary or A Garbage River?

Ramganga (West) River originates from the western part of Dudhatoli reserve forest lying between Thailisain block in Pouri and Gairsain tehsil in Chamoli districts of Uttrakhand state. It is an important tributary of National River Gaga. The total length of the river is about 596 km. For first 200 km the river flows in Uttarakhand state and the remaining length falls in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Before it descends into plains, it is impounded by Kalagarh dam inside Jim Corbett National park.

Continue reading “Ramganga West – A Ganga Tributary or A Garbage River?”

Ganga · Rivers

Can a book tell History of Ganga?

Book Review: “Ganga: The Many Pasts of a River” by Sudipta Sen. Penguine Viking. 2019. PP 445 + (xvi)

Panditaraja Jagannath, Mughal court poet extraordinaire, a scholar of Linguistics, poetics, and philosophy, hounded by the Brahmin orthodoxy led by Hara Dikshita for marrying a Muslim woman, sought refuge on the steps of Banaras by the side of the Ganga. Forbidden to step into the water lest he pollute the river with his transgression, he was moved to compose his famous devotional eulogy of the Ganga, known as the Piyushalahari. As he composed each verse, legend has it, the river rose step by step, and at the end of his recitation sweeps him and his devoted wife away.”

This is one of the many fascinating stories that Sudipta Sen tells us in this remarkable book, a product of at least 12 years of labor of love. Continue reading “Can a book tell History of Ganga?”

Goa · Rivers · Waterways

Surest way to defeat Solastalgia: Zuari River Fishing Community

Guest blog by Sebastiao Anthony Rodrigues

A dozen years has passed by ever since Glenn Albrecht has defined home sickness suffered at home as ‘Solastalgia’. In an article published in a Journal ‘Australasian Psychiatry’ in February 2007 issue he liked up human distress to eco-systemic distress. Healthy home he argued leads to healthy human lives. Home refers to the ecological well being of the surroundings of Human. Even though his article provoked in the context of Australian Indigenous and non-indigenous people’s response to the companies engaged in open cut coal mining the concept makes sense in other parts of the world that experiences ecological distress as well as human distress. There is hardly any place in the world today that is not faced by eco-systemic distress due to natural or anthropogenic factors.

Due to my engagement with Zuari river fishing community in Goa over the past few years its possible to share certain Solastalgic points involving life with fishing and beyond fishing. Certain development came to my attention that were viewed by fishing community as threat to their lives and has potential to escalate into ecological and human stress. Continue reading “Surest way to defeat Solastalgia: Zuari River Fishing Community”

Rivers

International Day of Actions For Rivers 2019: Positive River Actions From India

For last 22 years, 14 March is celebrated globally as International Day of Action for Rivers.

As per India Rivers Week Assessment 70 per cent of our rivers are facing existential threats. Over 60 per cent of sewage generated in India is dumped untreated in rivers and water bodies. As per latest official assessment the number of polluted river stretches in country has increased to 352 from 302 two years ago. Similarly the number of critically polluted stretches has gone up to 45 from 34 in two years. Our rivers are facing lack flow, pollution, encroachments, unsustainable mining and destruction of habitat. In mountains, streams are running dry for most of the time, while in urban areas they are over loaded with pollution.

Amid this gloomy scenario, many small initiatives are being taken to reverse the plight of our rivers. This compilation shows few of such recent and inspiring initiatives.

Continue reading “International Day of Actions For Rivers 2019: Positive River Actions From India”