When I was documenting a tiny, free-flowing river in Maharashtra Western Ghats named Shastri, the common thread from headwaters to estuary was Fishing! It was everywhere, in all forms, including dozens of fish species and fishing practices, including everyone: men, women, children, otters, crocs, storks. Across the country, buzzing, diversified fisheries with old, complex narratives indicate a rich river. And the palette just gets more vivid, nuanced and colorful with the size of the river.
More than 10 million Indians from some of the most vulnerable groups depend on rivers for their livelihood and nutritional needs. This staggering number can be an underestimate as several riverine fisherfolk do not bring their produce to the market and our livelihood census hardly captures the intricacies of riverine fisheries sector. Despite the huge dependence and critical importance of riverine fisheries, the sector continues being ignored and abused. The reasons behind the exploitation are at the heart of a deeper, more troubling discourse: ownership and appropriation of the river as a natural resource. Continue reading “Riverine Fisherfolk as Mascots of flowing rivers and how 4 projects treat them today”
Above: A fisherman on his traditional mango-wood canoe in Goa. (Photo: Atul Borker)
Guest Blog by Atul Borker, with Salil Chaturvedi
My deep engagement with Goan rivers began almost half a decade ago, when I started researching otters in the state. In this short span of time, an otter’s life has seen its ups and downs, and I don’t mean the daily rise and fall of tides that are critical to wildlife adapted to the mangroves!
Though Goa is the smallest state of India, it is blessed with as many as nine rivers. A unique aspect of Goan rivers is that they are tidal as well as rain-fed. During the monsoon months (June-September), water is drained out of the watershed through the rivers and into the sea. At the same time, the rivers experience a daily tidal influx upto 40 kilometers inland. The salinity of the rivers varies sharply between the monsoon and non-monsoon seasons, and so does the physico-chemical quality of the water. Needless to say, the people and the wildlife along the banks are highly attuned to these seasonal (and diurnal) changes, and the shy and elusive otter is one such animal. Continue reading “How much longer will Goa remain Otter Worthy?”
Above: Parshuram Kund on River Lohit, Arunachal Pradesh
Since 2005, last Sunday of every September is celebrated as the World Rivers Day. The tradition started in 1980s in British Columbia when some river activists came together for their rivers. Its only grown since then.
All through the year we hear about water conflicts, river pollution, degrading freshwater biodiversity, damming of living rivers, mismanagment, concretisation and encroachment on Indian Rivers. As I write this, Cauvery Water Conflict and simmering, serious discontent over the Indus Water Treaty governing 6 rivers between India and Pakistan is mounting. A simple google search on Indian Rivers throws up images of filth, pollution, droughts and floods. Lest we forget, thats not the whole picture. We are still the custodians of an amazing legacy. India still holds some of the most beautiful, healthy and life giving rivers in the world. There are people and communities nurturing their rivers and protecting them. All is not lost and this is a battle worth fighting, full of positive energy. Continue reading “Celebrating our Rivers on the World Rivers Day, 2016!”
Karnataka is still reeling from the protests, rasta roko, bandhs, burning effigies, etc., resulting from the anger over the Interim Verdict of Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal[i] (MWDT) of the 27.07.16 which did not allow Karnataka’s Appeal to temporarily lift 7 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic Feet) water from Mahadayi Basin into Malaprabha Basin (a sub basin of Krishna basin). Twin cities of Hubali and Dharwad, likely beneficiaries from the diversion, are centers of agitation. Schools and colleges were closed, government offices and buses were burnt, major roads were blocked by protesters. Pro-Karnataka Organizations and even Film stars have joined this protest. Karnataka Home Minister has called on the Prime Minister to look into the decision. Goa, on the other hand, is quietly celebrating this one positive step[ii]. I was reminded of Rajendra Singh’s uncritical support to the project and also what Dr. T V Ramchandra from IISC, Bangalore said about this, “Do the film stars know the details of the issue or even where their water comes from? The day we push Pudharis away, solutions to our water woes will be easy and closer to home.”
I have returned from Mhadei/Mandovi Basin recently, tracing her footsteps near her origin to the sea and it is difficult to conceive that this veritable treasure trove of serenity and beauty is today a bone of contention, leading to unrest and violence. Continue reading “Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal: Trouble brewing in Paradise”