Open Letter to the Prime Minister, Minister of Environment and media on 09/09/2021:
Restarting seven under-construction hydro projects in Ganga Himalaya unjustified
Recently the MoEF&CC has recommended restarting the construction of seven under-construction HEPs in Uttarakhand namely Tehri II (1000 MW), Tapovan Vishnugad (520 MW), Vishnugad Pipalkoti (444 MW), Singoli Bhatwari (99 MW), Phata Byung (76 MW), Madhmaheshwar (15 MW), and Kaliganga II (4.5 MW). The news came as a shock to citizens, devotees and environmentalists who have been struggling since over a decade to preserve our national river Ganga and the Himalaya. The deeply felt concern over the fate of these two pivotal ecological systems and defining symbols of Indian culture, compel us to write this letter. Not the least, as a citizen, it is also our constitutional duty ‘to protect and improve India’s natural environment’.
Continue reading “Open Letter to PM on Uttarakhand Hydro in Sept 2021”
Guest Blog by Dr. Ruchi Shree (TMBU, Bhagalpur-Bihar)
On the banks of river Ganga in north India, Bhagalpur is a district of South-east Bihar. This district is famous for production of silk and thus Bhagalpur is also called ‘silk city’. Due to its proximity to Ganga, it is a flood prone region of Bihar and the usual trend of flood is in alternate year with varying intensity. The wider impact of flood ranges from agricultural loss to disturbances in transportation (water on railway track to vanished roads and bridges) and health hazards to environmental impacts to name a few[i]. This essay has three objectives: first, to narrate the challenges and lessons from my first close encounter of flood, specifically Bhagalpur floods, second, to probe into major reasons of flood and third, to depict the post-flood scenario. To have seen myself in three roles namely flood observer, flood victim and flood survivor is what made me sense the everydayness of flood.
Continue reading “The Everydayness of Flood: Experiences from Bhagalpur-Bihar”
As India prepares to celebrate 75th Independence day on August 15, 2021, large parts of Bihar along the Ganga river, including Patna (flood water entered colonies near Ganga in Patna) and Bhagalpur are preparing to face unprecedented floods. In fact, Central Water Commission’s (CWC) flood monitoring site at Hathidah in Patna district crossed the HIGHEST FLOOD LEVEL (HFL) of 43.17 m at 0300 hours in early morning on Aug 13, 2021. The water level is already at 43.33 m at 1300 hrs on Aug 14. It is forecast to reach 43.45 m by 0800 on independence day still with rising trend. This is apparent from the CWC hydrograph of this site shown above.
Continue reading “Why are Patna & Bhagalpur facing unprecedented floods on India’s 75th independence day?”
Guest Blog by Dr. Ruchi Shree (TMBU, Bhagalpur-Bihar)
Last year, I wrote three stories on dying Champa river in Bhagalpur and challenges/ prospects of its rejuvenation[i]. That exercise helped me in exploring the city through a river which used be an important waterbody in this region but now at the verge of extinction. Situated at the banks of river Ganga, the Bhagalpur city faces three to four major problems related to water and sanitation, namely, arsenic contaminated groundwater, falling water level, recurrent floods, open drainage, etc. This year, I pedaled (cycling) in the local vicinity to make sense of ‘piped water’ and its limitations in the city. One more concern was to document the growing ecological crisis in the university area as captured and reflected in this blog. This photo essay is based on my observations over a period of last three months in Nathnagar block of Bhagalpur (south-west part of the city). Bhagalpur, a “smart city” of south Bihar is close to Jharkhand. I visited the ward no. 13 and ward no.17 of the Nathnagar block to write this story. Two pictures (near Ganga) towards the end of the blog were taken in a different part of the city i.e. in Adampur area of Bhagalpur.
Continue reading “Water on Wheels to Dying Fishes in Ganga River Basin in Bhagalpur”
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[i]. 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.
The Out of Eden Walk trail in India was ~4000kms, of which I was present for about 1500kms in different sections. These stretches were spread across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and bit of Assam & Manipur.
Continue reading “River Stories, Walking Across India – II”
A review of the Central Water Commission (CWC) monitoring reports of all four quarters of 2019 reveals that all the eleven projects that were being monitored in Ganga basin have violated the mandatory Environment flows notification in each of the four quarters of 2019 at some time or the other. The reports are of poor quality with CWC forgetting which states are in Ganga basin and even relative location of the projects. The CWC also seems to have no clue as to what constitutes Environment flows. No punitive action is initiated in any of the cases of violations even after the e flows notification implementation becomes legally mandatory from December 15, 2019 as per the NMCG notification of Sept 14, 2019. Continue reading “Implementation of NMCG’s Ganga River E flows in 2019: All projects violating even tokenistic norms”
(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.””
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”
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?”
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?”