Book Review: Rage of the Rivers: Role of Uttarakhand hydro projects in Kedarnath disaster 2013 by Hridayesh Joshi Rage of the River reads not unlike a gripping thriller. Thing is, it is not fiction. It is a true ‘story’ of a cataclysmic event, exacerbated by greed, and twisted notions of development manifested in blasting fragile hills, tunneling rivers, denuding forests, and encouraging illegal encroachments and mindless construction and tourism infrastructure. This is an important chronicle of one of the worst disasters of our times. Joshi has thoroughly analysed the role of endless, ill-planned hydel projects, but inexplicably fails to take into account the wreckage wrought by unrestrained tourism. Joshi points a finger at the unethical practices of construction companies, contractors and operators of hydel dam projects, even in the face of this monumental disaster. The officials of the Vishnuprayag project refused to listen to the pleas of the villagers to open the dam gates and allow the excess water to flow safely from under the barrage. The advice was ignored, either in ignorance of the gravity of the situation, or with an eye on the opportunity to generate more power. The rising waters broke the barrage flooding the valley and its villages.
Water conservation: Lessons from ancient India As drought-like conditions have gripped many parts of India this year, the pressure to drill borewells in search of increasingly scarce groundwater has escalated. Many regions are in the grip of a vicious cycle of drilling causing the water table to sink further. There is an urgent need to explore what benefits water conservation can bring, whether through modern or ancient water storage structures. This report explains, ecologically safe engineering marvels of water conservation have existed in India for nearly 1,500 years, including traditional systems of water harvesting, such as the bawari, jhalara, nadi, tanka, and khadin. Even today these systems remain viable and cost-effective alternatives to rejuvenate depleted groundwater aquifers, according to experts. With govt support, these structures could be upgraded and productively combined with modern rainwater-saving techniques such as anicuts, percolation tanks, injection wells and subsurface barriers. This may be a far more sustainable approach to alleviating the water scarcity crisis across India. Ultimately, water conservation has to be a key element of any strategy to bring an end to India’s perennial swings between drought and flood.
SANDRP Comments India Water Week continues to show absence of any fresh thinking from water resources establishment The 4th India Water Week being organized by Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation during April 4-8, 2016 in Delhi shows continued absence of any fresh thinking from water resources establishment.
The Information Brochure of the event says: “Ministry of Water Resources, RD & GR is to organize the India Water Week -2016 between April 4-8, 2016 to use it as a platform to elicit ideas and opinions from global level decision makers, politicians, researchers and entrepreneurs in the field of water resources for mutual benefit and goodwill… This is the fourth event of its kind with the theme “Water for all : Striving together” focusing on improving efficiencies of water use across all sectors… ”