– West Champaran district also sees many floods in the non-monsoon months, many of which go unreported, and often, ignored by flood-relief schemes. The natural explanation for the flash floods is that the region is at the foothills and rivers from the hills of bordering Nepal flow through it. But the floods are not entirely a result of natural phenomena. Over the years, excessive sand mining in the river beds has led to ecological imbalances, making rivers and streams flood and even change their course, wreaking havoc in the villages along their banks.
The seventh report reviewing status of India’s rivers in 2017, focuses on Rivers in West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. This review does not include main Ganga river as there is separate Review of state of Ganga River.
West Bengal Rivers
Rivers pollution worse than in 2014 According to the latest State of Environment Report, it has been found that in the 17 major rivers of the state, including the Ganga, the levels of coliform bacteria are much higher than the permissible limit. The report further revealed that several stretches of the Ganga had a total coliform count ranging from one to four lakhs, making the water totally unfit for even bathing. The report has also stated that compared to 2014, all the four main rivers of north Bengal recorded a significant increase in total coliform count. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/bengals-rivers-in-a-bad-shape/article22459562.ece (The Hindu, 18 Jan. 2018)
Above: Narmada at Khalghat Photo: Parineeta Dandekar
“Ahalya, you will be an eternal dry river. Your path will be rocky and parched. You will receive water only when you meet the pious Godavari. That will be your only redemption”.
Thus spoke Sage Gautam, pushing his wife Ahalya into a quagmire of dark desperation for ages. Ironically, it was Indra who, driven by lust, impersonated Sage Gautam and met Ahalya. In some versions of the story Gautam curses Ahalya into a stone slab, in some she becomes uncultivable, barren land. Till date, there exists a marriage custom in certain communities where the newly wed girl touches a dry stone by her feet.. it should remind her of her fate if she “strays” like Ahalya. But that is another story.
In the Western Ghats of Maharashtra where the Godavari rises, there is a tiny river called Ahalya meeting Godavari at the Trimbakeshwar Temple. If women and even Goddesses were made to suffer at the hands of patriarchy, how can rivers, the sacred feminine, be far behind?