Rivers

India Rivers Week 2020: Key Highlights

Chaired by Justice (Retd) Madan Lokur of Supreme Court of India, the India Rivers Week (IRW) 2020[i] ended at a well attended National Dialogue on River Sand Mining, and giving away of Bhagirath Prayas Samman (BPS) and Anupam Mishra Memorial (AMM) Medal on Nov 28, 2020. This was culmination of the process that started with the North India River Sand Mining Dialogue on Oct 31, 2020[ii] and dialogues in South Zone[iii], West Zone[iv] and East Zone[v] in the following weeks. Several hundred people participated in the regional dialogues and the recordings continue to be watched by many more on Facebook live and youtube.

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Rivers · Sand Mining

East Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue: How can we ensure implementation of court orders?

Higher Courts and NGT has been giving numerous orders and judgments, but the state is happily getting away with non implementation in most cases. How can we ensure that court orders get implemented? Why is the judiciary not concerned about non implementation of its orders? This was one of the central message of the East Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue on Nov 21, 2020 (4-6.30 pm) as part of the India Rivers Week 2020[i] theme “Is Sand Mining Killing our Rivers?” Additional Director R B Lal from Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in his presentation agreed that the sustainable sand mining guidelines have not been implemented. One would have liked to hear how we can achieve their implementation and that MoEF also values participation of people at the grass roots in sand mining governance. He did not mention the local people even once, while praising MoEF’s emphasis on technology in the sand mining guidelines.

The Dialogue was very ably moderated by Dr Malavika Chauhan of Tata Trusts and Dr Debashish Sen of People’s Science Institute (Dehra Dun). This was Fourth in a series of Zonal River Sand Mining dialogues being held after North Zone[ii], South Zone[iii] and West Zone[iv] Dialogues held earlier.

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Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk · Rivers · Sand Mining

WFD 2020: Impacts of River Sand Mining on Riverine Fisheries

World Fisheries Day 2020 is being celebrated, like every year, on Nov 21, 2020[i]. Though FAO celebrated it on Nov 20, 2020[ii]. From India, NPSSFW[iii] has called upon small scale fish workers to celebrate the World Fisheries Day 2020 with hope, determination and fervour. [Feature Photo above: Jal Satyagaraha by women in Banda (UP) against Sand Mining.]

SANDRP has been publishing articles during WFD in 2019[iv], Article about Mass fish deaths due to pollution, dry rivers in India[v], 2018[vi], 2017[vii] when Gujarat Fish workers dependent on Narmada River Demand cancellation of Bhadbhut Dam, rejuvenation of River, 2016 memory note on Ganga, Narora Barrage and Fish ladder[viii], 2015[ix] and 2013 note on community fish sanctuaries[x].

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Rivers · Sand Mining

West Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue: Mining Riparian Health

River Sand Mining is equivalent to mining not only riparian health, but also destroying massive water storage and recharge capacity. This was one of the central message of the West Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue on Nov 12, 2020 (4-6.30 pm) as part of the India Rivers Week 2020[i] theme “Is Sand Mining Killing our Rivers?” The other central message of the West Zone Dialogue was well encapsulated by this quote from Yamuna Sunny, one of the panelists at the Dialogue: “The intricate relationships between the fishers, the small scale sand miners, the sand farmers, the birds and the trees, pertains not only to possibilities of developing sustainable ways of human life in an economic sense, but also the sustaining of all life forms and their relationships in nature.”

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Photoblog · Rivers

River Stories, Walking Across India – Part III

Guest Blog by Siddharth Agarwal

In the years 2018 and 2019, I spent months walking East across India with Paul Salopek on the Out of Eden Walk (For details, see: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/projects/out-of-eden-walk/#section-0). His trail started in the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia in East Africa, roughly following the path of the early human migration out of Africa and across the globe.

The India trail of the Out of Eden Walk started from the India-Pakistan border at Wagah, Punjab. It then moved East through the Indus Basin, followed by the basins of West flowing rivers like Luni, then a large chunk through the southern Gangetic plains in Central India before crossing over to the Brahmaputra basin close to Siliguri in West Bengal. The crossover to Myanmar happened at Moreh in Manipur, also incidentally very close to the basin boundary of Brahmaputra and Irrawady. He entered India in March 2018, and crossed over to Myanmar in July 2019.

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India Rivers Week · Rivers · Sand Mining

South Zone Sand Mining Dialogue: The grain of sand is habitat for many lives

One of the central themes of the lively presentations and discussion at the South India Sand Mining Dialogue was that the grain of sand is a habitat for so many lives, as so brilliantly put forward by Munmun Dhalaria, one of the panelists. Another key highlight was that Yogeshwaran, the lawyer painfully noted that sand mining laws are neither environment friendly nor people friendly and can be environment friendly only if they are people friendly.

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floodplains · Rivers

Please keep your tree Plantations away from River Floodplains

Guest Blog by: Manoj Misra

River Floodplains are not vacant wastelands awaiting tree plantations. They are extensions of a flowing river with key roles for keeping it healthy.

‘Afforestation’ has been cited as one of the key components of the ongoing Rs 20,000 Crores ‘Namami Gange’ program launched with much fanfare by the Modi government for the rejuvenation of river Ganga. Forestry interventions for Ganga rejuvenation are reportedly underway in accordance with a Detailed Project Report (DPR) prepared by the Dehradun based Forest Research Institute (FRI)[i].

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Rivers · Sand Mining

North India Sand Mining Dialogue under IRW 2020: Local communities need to have key role in governance

The Key message that came through from all the panelists and North India Sand mining presentation was that if we are to see any improvement in the murky state of sand mining that is a threat to everyone today, then we urgently need key role for the local communities and civil society in sand mining governance. The second loud & clear message was that the Supreme Order of 2012 on the need for environmental appraisal and clearance of sand mining leases stands violated in letter and spirit by the Union Government. These messages also provide us the way forward.

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Chalakudy · Dam floods · Kerala

Reservoir Operations Fail People in Chalakudy River Basin in Kerala in 2020

Guest Article by S P Ravi

Kerala continues to witness unusual monsoon rainfall patterns for the third straight year in 2020. Kerala had witnessed its worst flood in almost a century in 2018. The 2019 flood was probably second only to the 2018 floods over the last 50 years, with many places experiencing larger floods than that in 2018. While the state did not face huge floods this year, tragedy struck in the form of the Pettimudi landslide near Munnar in Idukki district. It buried alive 70 members of plantation labourer families, making it the worst ever landslide in Kerala in terms of human causality. Kerala has also witnessed its wettest monsoon in September in this millennium with a rainfall of 601 mm, surpassing the previous highest of 526 mm recorded in 2007. The S-W monsoon period is now over and the state received 2227 mm rainfall, which is 9 percent above long term average.

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Chhattisgarh · CWC - Central Water Commission · Dam Disaster · Mahanadi

Khanda Dam Breach in Chhattisgarh in Sept 2020

The earthen Khanda dam in Korea district[i] in Chhattisgarh’s Mahanadi basin breached around 6.30 hrs on Wednesday, Sept 23, 2020. Local farmers alleged negligence by the Water Resources Department officials, who were informed about the dilapidated condition of the dam. The engineers even came and inspected, they said, and went away. They alleged that if they had reduced water storage and in stead opened the two canal gates, this situation may not have come.

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