South Asia

SOUTH ASIA 2017: MISS YOU, RIVERS & FISH! As Dams and Water sharing dominate

India-Bangladesh-Myanmar face big quake threat A giant fault in the earth’s crust in one of the world’s most densely populated areas could kill tens of millions of people, scientists have warned according to a new paper in the journal Nature Geoscience. Researchers placed hundreds of highly accurate GPS receivers in locations across India, Bangladesh and Myanmar and monitored them over a ten-year period. Now the scientists fear the location is home to a mega-thrust fault which could unleash a 8.2-9.0 magnitude earthquake. More than 140 million people live within a 60-mile area of the potential disaster zone in Bangladesh. The scientists, led by Dr Michael Steckler from Columbia University published their findings in the journal Nature. This is also a warning against major interventions in the North East India. http://www.indiaspend.com/cover-story/india-bangladesh-and-myanmar-face-big-quake-threat-99557, July 19, 2016, http://thenortheasttoday.com/earthquake-of-9-0-magnitude-could-be-unleashed-anytime-from-a-major-fault-underneath-bangladesh/, July 22, 2016, http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2760.html  Continue reading “SOUTH ASIA 2017: MISS YOU, RIVERS & FISH! As Dams and Water sharing dominate”

Dams · Indus

Rivers are Us

Above: Sindhu by Anoop Patnaik, Outlook Traveller

“To choose safe waters

is the route of imposters:

Those who love

take on the mighty river.” (Seeking the Beloved, translations of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s Poems)

Sohni
Sohni in modern art by Aparna Caur

In the inky, starless night, beautiful Sohni plunged into the flooded River Chenab to meet her beloved Mehwal, knowing well that she will never make it to the other side. Sohni is one of the seven heroines brought to life by Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, a remarkable 18th Century Sufi poet, mystic and reformist living on the banks of Indus. Sohni was the wife of a potter, in love with Mahiwal, a cattle herder from the banks of the Chenab. Like all poignant love stories, Sohni-Mahiwal’s tale was short-lived, but 300 years later, the legend of Sohni flows through the Chenab and lives on in the songs of peasants. In Punjab, the land of five rivers, they sing of Sohni, of the roaring, helpless river and of mad, wilful love. The narrative is so unwrinkled and dewy that till this day, silent figures sweep the modest tombs of Sohni and Mahiwal, hoping that their love will meet a better fate. Like Sur Sohni (Sohni’s poem) from Shah jo Risalo (Poetry of the Shah) prophecised:

“Hundreds were by the river drowned,

But the river was drowned by this maiden.” Continue reading “Rivers are Us”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 22 May 2017 (SOLVE SILTATION PROBLEMS OF GANGA OR REMOVE FARAKKA DAM TO REVIVE GANGA: NITISH KUMAR)

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar again has urged the central govt to remove the Farakka barrage in West Bengal and make a countrywide policy on silt management for letting river Ganga to flow freely.

“Siltation is destroying Ganga’s ecology and health. It’s due to heavy deposits of silt on the riverbed that stream of the river is being badly affected,” Kumar said at a two-day national seminar on ‘Obstacles in the Incessant Flow of the Ganga’.

Speaking on the occasion, Swami Avimukteshwara Anand criticised Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati for doing absolutely nothing for the cause of the river Ganga and said she seems more interested in her chair rather  than the river. He also criticised  Prime Minister Modi for claiming that he is son  of Ganga, but doing nothing positive for the river. Swami ji said Nitin Gadkari seems bent on further destroying the river in the name of National Waterway.

Addressing the seminar Nitish Kukar said that Bihar’s demand for the framing of national policy on desiltation of the Ganga and clearance of silt in the state is not a political issue, as the matter is related to larger environmental and biodiversity issues facing the people.

He added, “Concrete steps have to be taken to ensure incessant flow of the Ganga. Otherwise, cleanliness of the river is not possible.” Referring to the need to protect biodiversity, he said conservation of the Ganga dolphins is dependent on the cleanliness of its water. He added the Farakka barrage constructed across the river in West Bengal has led to slow flow of water between Buxar to Bhagalpur, and consequent annual flood and waterlogging during the monsoon.

Nitish recalled the devastating flood that the state had witnessed in the Ganga basin last year and said Bihar had spent Rs 1,058 crore over the last five years to prevent soil erosion. He appealed to the Centre to frame a sound policy on silt management, stressing that it should be prepared by making on the spot survey and assessment of the prevailing situation. Nitish said even the report of the committee headed by Madhav Chitale had accepted the problem of siltation facing the Ganga.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 22 May 2017 (SOLVE SILTATION PROBLEMS OF GANGA OR REMOVE FARAKKA DAM TO REVIVE GANGA: NITISH KUMAR)”

Chenab · Indus · Pakistan

India Pakistan resume talks on Indus Treaty: Stakes are high

When on March 20-21, 2017, on the eve of World Water Day, India and Pakistan’s Permanent Indus Commission met in Islamabad for its 113rd meeting, there was a lot at stake besides the immediate issue or even the Indus Treaty.

In many ways, the Indus Treaty remains a bright spot in relations between these two neighbors and the treaty keeps bringing them back to the talking table…This is the magic of a shared river! Continue reading “India Pakistan resume talks on Indus Treaty: Stakes are high”

Inter State Water Disputes

Inter state River Water Disputes in India: History and status

Water sharing disputes across the country (and even beyond) are only going to escalate with increasing demands, and also with increasing pollution & losses reducing the available water. Climate change is likely to worsen the situation as monsoon patterns change, water demands going up with increasing temperatures, glaciers melt and sea levels rise. The government’s agenda of interlinking of rivers would further complicate the matters.

The ongoing Cauvery Water Dispute [iv] has once again brought the focus on interstate river water sharing disputes in India and what has been our experience so far. There is no solution of Cauvery water dispute in sight and the engineer-dominated Cauvery Management Board that the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal Award has recommended is unlikely to help matters. Continue reading “Inter state River Water Disputes in India: History and status”

Dams · Indus

So who will suffer in the Indus water imbroglio?

Diplomatic and military strategies, by definition, are not decided through public debates. So the jingoism around Indus treaty with Pakistan seems more like an attempt at sending threatening signals. But it will have multiple serious ramifications in any case, so it is worth deliberating about.

The 1960 Indus treaty has allocated rights of development on three eastern tributaries (Sutlej, Beas & Ravi) to India, and we have exhausted that entitlement almost fully. Attempts to use the occasional remaining flow will mean a huge impact in Indian Punjab, which is unlikely to resonate well with the people of Punjab.  The treaty gave Pakistan dominant right of development of the three western tributaries (Chenab, Jhelum and Indus), India has limitations about water use (both in terms of quantity and manner of use) in case of the western rivers. India has not yet exhausted the entitlement in this case.

Continue reading “So who will suffer in the Indus water imbroglio?”

Dams · Indus · Pakistan

Jhulelal or Zindapir: River Saints, fish and flows of the Indus

Above: Zindapir Shrine at Sukkur Photo from: British Library

Perhaps we all have our pet projects which we wish would go on forever. I have been working on a Primer on Riverine Fisheries of South Asia for some years now (my office may disagree with the definition of ‘some’). Like a magpie collecting shiny knick-knacks, I keep collecting (quite serendipitously, or so I think) anecdotes and interviews and snippets on the subject. Continue reading “Jhulelal or Zindapir: River Saints, fish and flows of the Indus”

Dams

Landslide dam threat in Zanskar Valley to continue for more weeks: Update 2

In the most significant event so far on the issue of landslide blockage of Phutkal River in Zanskar Valley in Kargil District in Kashmir, the National Crisis Management Committee[1] (NCMC) chaired by the Union Cabinet Secretary Shri Ajit Seth met[2] on Feb 20, 2015 and approved the Action Plan whose implementation will begin within next 15 days and is to be completed by end of March. This decision is based on assumption that the snowmelt will cause landslide dam threatening situation only in April.

Tsarap Landslide location and floodpath: Map by SANDRP based on Kargil District Map from NATMO
Tsarap Landslide location and floodpath: Map by SANDRP based on Kargil District Map from NATMO

Continue reading “Landslide dam threat in Zanskar Valley to continue for more weeks: Update 2”

Disasters

Landslide Dam blocks Phutkal River, threatens Zanskar Valley: Update

NRSC latest (Feb 7 2015) image of the Phutkal landslide
NRSC latest (Feb 7 2015) image of the Phutkal landslide

Feb 13, 2015: The picturesque Zanskar Valley in Jammu and Kashmir State in Northern India continues to remain under threat as one of the tributaries of the Zanskar River has been blocked by a massive 200 ft high landslide dam (equal to height of a 20 storey building). The landslide dam between Shaday Sumdo and Mar Shun in the Zanskar subdivision of Kargil district has created about 14 km long lake, whose size is increasing with every passing day. Life and properties of around 4000 people are at risk due to the possible flashfloods when the landslide dam breaches. Continue reading “Landslide Dam blocks Phutkal River, threatens Zanskar Valley: Update”

Disasters

Landslide Dam blocks Zanskar River tributary, threatens Valley

The picturesque Zanskar Valley in Jammu and Kashmir State in Northern India is under threat as one of the tributaries of the Zanskar River has been blocked by a massive 200 ft high landslide dam (equal to height of a 20 storey building). The landslide dam between Shaday Sumdo and MarShun in the Zanskar subdivision of Kargil district has created about 8 km long lake, whose size is increasing with every passing day. The landslide dam is made of mostly fine grained debris & blocks 97% of the flow of around 50 cusecs flow at this period as per records. While the lake is frozen right now, the threat of its breach looms as soon as the melting season starts. The landslide dam was reportedly created on Dec 31, 2014, when a whole side of mountain soil had landed on the Phuktal River. The landslide lake has been accumulating water for over a month now. Continue reading “Landslide Dam blocks Zanskar River tributary, threatens Valley”