Beas · Free flowing rivers · Himachal Pradesh

In Photos: Gharats of Tirthan: For the tastiest Parathas

In the Tirthan Valley of Himachal Pradesh, as we crisscrossed tiny wheat fields moist with dew and apple orchards laden with white blossoms, a rhythm accompanied the steps: a constant ghrr-ghrr-ghrr. It came from small slate shelters with sloping roofs, which looked like tiny shrines. Sometimes, the shelters were made directly over a stream, but many times they were on the banks, with a channel diverting some water to them.

These were the Gharats: water-mills running on the kinetic energy of flowing water and milling fresh, cool flour.

Throughout Tirthan Valley, Gharats dot the streams at several locations. Raju Bhartiji says that Tirthan had many more Gharats in the past, but the floods of 1995 washed many of them away and most remaining fell into disrepair. Even so, as compared to other parts of Himachal, Tirthan valley is fortunate. Hydropower dams, including mini hydro projects, with their headrace and tailrace tunnels, flow diversions and blasting have destroyed thousands of Gharats in Himachal and Uttarakhand. These water mills are special not only because they are decentralized and appropriate technology structures. They are a part of the heritage of the land: almost all of the materials for building one come from the surroundings and the masons who build them are artists.

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Art, Literature, Culture · Ganga · W Bengal · West Bengal

Boat Races of Bengal: A River Carnival

In the Nadi-Matrik land (born to the river) of Bengal, where a blade of grass takes on layered meanings, river boats are not to be taken lightly. For boatmen who row down a vast river for days at end, a boat is more than a mode of transport. It is symbolic of the mortal body: frail, tattered and adrift, in search of a safe harbor.

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Chenab · Dams

August 2022: Flash flood debris block Chenab flow in Lahual, Himachal Pradesh

(Feature image: Video grab of artificial lake on Chenab river. Source Weatherman Shubham @shubhamtorres09, Twitter, Aug. 16, 2022)

Debris brought by flash flood in Jahlma nullah blocked[i] the flows of Chenab (Chandrabhaga) river for about 6 hours in Udaipur tehsil of Lahual and Spiti district, Himachal Pradesh forming a huge lake. The incident occurred following heavy rainfall on August 15, 2022 night.

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Book Review · Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk · Rivers

BOOK REVIEW: Rare book on Rivers and fisherfolks of North India

Guest Article by Dr. Ruchi Shree

BOOK: Ramashankar Singh (2022), Nadi-Putra: Uttar Bharat me Nishad aur Nadi, Setu Prakashan, New Delhi.

The arrival of books viz. Dipesh Chakravarty’s The Climate of History in Planetary Age (2021), Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (2016), A Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis (2021), Sunil Amruth’s The Unruly Waters: How Mountain Rivers and Monsoons have shaped South Asia’s History (2019) and numerous others has blurred the disciplinary divide between literature, politics and environment. These books have brought attention to the worsening environmental crisis worldwide and how developing countries or the global south is facing its severe brunt. As a consequence, one may notice an upsurge in literature in hindi and other regional languages around environmental issues in India. Last year, Shekhar Pathak’s book Hari Bhari Ummeed (2021) narrated the complexities of Chipko Movement at its 40 years and now this book here for review joins the club of interdisciplinary texts on environmental issues in India.

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Beas · Dams · Environment · Environment Impact Assessment · Environmental Flow · Fish · Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk · Free flowing rivers · Gharat · Himachal Pradesh · Hydropower · Rivers

Muktadhara Tirthan

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.

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River Biodiversity

When a gharial landed in a cow shelter in Delhi

It’s been more than six months since I got a Whatsapp video forward from my friend Yayati Bhardwaj along with a message in Hindi about some cow vigilant rescuing a ‘crocodile’ from Swaroop Nagar area of Delhi and sending it to a cow shelter in Narela, a bustling town in North West Delhi bordering Haryana.

It was around 07:00 pm on November 12, 2021 when busy in market, I had quick glance over the video. It was not very clear and shot with loud Punjabi music playing in the background. It showed some monitor lizard kind reptile lying motionlessly on ground with wheat grains scattered around it. At first sight, I found nothing to be surprised or worth responding.

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Dams · Ganga

11 Gangetic Dolphins Found Dead since Jan 2021

Despite being declared National Aquatic Animal and provided highest level of protection under schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, there are frequent incidents causing unnatural deaths to Gangetic river dolphins (Platanista Gangetica) in India.  

Previously SANDRP documented deaths for 10 Gangetic dolphins due to man-made reasons including getting trapped in canals, fishing nets and hunting during 2020. Here we are tracking the issue January 2021 onwards.

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Dams · Narmada · Rivers

Narmada and Rappahannock: A Tale of Two Rivers

Guest Article by Lori Udall

When I think back on my work in India in the late 1980s and early 90s, my memory takes me most often to the Narmada River and Manibeli, the first Adivasi village in Maharashtra to be submerged by the Sardar Sarovar dam.  The storied Narmada, with its Hindu temples, landscapes, the mystical parikramas and distinct voice will be forever stored in my soul. As an activist who tracked World Bank development projects in India, I worked with Narmada Bachao Andolan.  As I travelled on or near the Narmada, I documented the resettlement issues facing the Adavasi and other oustees and sent reports back to the World Bank and U.S. Congress.

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Rivers

How and where can ‘greening’ help Indian Rivers?

Guest Article by Manoj Misra

The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) under the union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) has recently prepared Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for the rejuvenation of 13 Indian rivers and released a document called the ‘overview of Detailed Project Reports for rejuvenation of major Indian rivers through forestry interventions’. These rivers are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Yamuna, Brahmaputra, Luni, Narmada, Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna and Cauvery (Kaveri). This article is in the nature of a caveat on the overview DPR report and the plans.  

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Springs

Celebrating hill women and their role in Springshed development and governance

Guest Blog by: Seema Ravandale

Abstract: The hill women share the special intricate and culturally nurtured connection to forest and water, which makes them better steward or owner of their resources. This demands their participation beyond the right-based “beneficiary” approach, recognizing their accumulated knowledge and resilient and adaptive capacities in recently contested discourse of Springshed development and governance in Indian Himalayan Region (IHR).

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