Bhagirathi · Ganga · Uttarakhand

Walking along Ganga in Uttarakhand in 2017

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”

Alaknanda · Bhagirathi · Floods · Ganga · Mandakini · Ministry of Environment and Forests · Uttarakhand

Two years of Uttarakhand Flood Disaster of June 2013: Why is state & centre gambling with the Himalayas, the Ganga & lives of millions?

Its two years since Uttarakhand faced its worst ever flood disaster during June 15-17, 2013. We remember such tragedies to ensure that we learn the necessary lessons. So that in future such tragedies are not repeated or their dimensions are reduced. One of the enduring debates since that the Uttarakhand tragedy has been about the role of existing and under construction hydropower projects in increasing the proportions of the disaster.

A lot of water has flown down the Ganga in these two years, so let us revisit the important milestones of that debate. Within two months of the disaster, a bench led by Justice Radhakrishnan gave an order on Aug 13, 2013[1], asking the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to appoint an independent panel to assess the role played by existing and under construction hydropower projects in the disaster. Continue reading “Two years of Uttarakhand Flood Disaster of June 2013: Why is state & centre gambling with the Himalayas, the Ganga & lives of millions?”