“The banks of my pleasant Ichhamati are dotted with tiny villages, wild flowers, green trees and bird nests. In the past five hundred years, so many fishermen have cast their nets in the river, so many houses have been built, so many babies came in the arms of their mothers to take a dip in the river and then in the old age found their last bed near the cool waters of the river. I can visualise the countless who have approached this peaceful river bank through centuries. I shall write a story of about all this. This story shall be called Ichhamati.”
Fisher-folks know a river better than most others. Fish diversity is unfailing indicator determining river health. Unfortunately given the pollution load and lack of fresh flowing water, the Delhi stretch of Yamuna river is biologically dead. Hence fishing activities are rare and not much is known about the current fishermen community.
Situation was better in the past. Many people still fondly recollect, memory of bathing in a pristinely flowing Yamuna in Delhi around 1970s. They also describe their narrative of enjoying plenty of fish variety. Elderly in Greater Noida even claim watching ‘Sush’ dolphin in the river during their childhood.
Now the river is in continual degradation. It gets some clean water during monsoon, when adjoining areas face flood threat.
Even as India’s General Elections 2019 are underway, by now the manifestos of most major parties[i] are out now. The latest one to come out was from AAP on April 25, 2019. Here we have tried to capture the key aspects of the manifestos of main political parties, particularly on aspects that we work on. While looking at the promises in the manifestos, we also look at the track record of the outgoing government, since that is the most relevant and current experience. We try and see how the parties try to come to grips with the massive water and environment crisis that India faces and how the poorest are the first and many times the only victims of the crisis. Continue reading “Election Manifestos of 2019: Which party shows faith in people, rights & democracy?”→
Field Observation Report, 20-21 April 2019 at Lakhwar Multipurpose Dam Project, Lohari and Vyasi Hydro Electric Project, Juddo. This author, also an applicant in NGT petition, visited the Lakhwar and Vyasi project area before the sub committee of MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for River Valley Projects visited the site on Apr 22, 2019.
The proposed site of Multipurpose Lakhwar dam project was seen affected with multiple landslides. One such fresh landslide was seen right at the site where the 204 meter high dam is supposed to be built. Locals revealed that many of the landslides in and around the location have become perennial.
Following death of Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand (Prof G D Agarwal) while on fast unto death on Oct 11, 2018 and disappearance of Swami Gopal Das ji from AIIMS-Delhi, Swami Aatmabodhanand ji has been on fast unto death at Matri Sadan, Haridwar since Oct 24, 2019. In a letter to the Prime Minister on April 19, 2019 he has said that if the government does respond by April 25, 2019 to the four demands for which the fast undo death is undertaken, he will leave water from April 27, 2019. The four demands are well known:
Cancel all under construction and proposed dams on Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and their tributaries.
Prohibit all mining and tree cutting in the Ganga flood plains, particularly in Haridwar
Enact Ganga Act for the preservation of River Ganga, the draft of which has been sent to the govt.
In January 2019, the NGT rejected the Centre Groundwater Guidelines for a variety of reasons. It cited several shortcomings, several of which had already been pointed out on this blog, such as the fact that the water conservation fee would give those who had paid it carte blanche to withdraw excessive amounts of water and the lack of monitoring of pollution of groundwater. In addition to the shortcomings cited by the NGT, do the guidelines take into account the special needs of the Himalayan states? SANDRP spoke with people who have been working on groundwater in the Indian Himalayas to understand what the region’s needs are. Continue reading “Himalaya-friendly groundwater governance”→
As even NITI Aayog report acknowledged in June 2018[i], there is consensus that India is facing dire water crisis, which will only get worse. This was also predicted by the World Bank way back in their 2006 report called “India’s Turbulent Water Future”. But do we have the institutions that are capable of taking us out of this crisis? Remember the current institutes are at the root of our water crisis.
It’s a strange situation in Gujarat. While everyone is talking about unprecedented drought and the drought hit are suffering due to lack of water for irrigation and even water supply, the Sardar Sarovar Dam today (April 16) is at 119.14 m, and has 1095 Million Cubic Meters (MCM) in Live storage, in addition to about 3700 MCM of water in what is called dead storage. The Dam has received much more water this year compared to last year. SSP Water level on April 16, 2019 is up from 115.55 m, the lowest level it reached this water year[i] on March 3, 2019, since 2018 monsoon.
A pond dug a few years ago in Jignanda village of Hamirpur district still holds plenty of water despite scanty rainfall (Photo by Soumya Sarkar)
In a remarkable campaign during the ongoing general elections, Bundelkhand villages have demanded PONDs for Votes. This is exactly what is required for Bundelkhand, and not the destructive, costly and contractor driven Ken Betwa link that BJP has been trying to push here. Congratulations to the Bundelkhand people and People’s Science Institute that has led this campaign.