Water

World Water Day 2019: Positive Stories from India

As we are celebrating world water day 2019 with the theme[1] ‘Leaving No One Behind’, two United Nation’s reports release in this month have underlined the growing water crisis on the watery planet. While the WaterAid report[2] has raised alarm over rapidly falling groundwater table in South Asia, the sixth edition of ‘Global Environment Outlook’, has warned of growing pollution of freshwater sources[3] and resultant impact on human health.

The situation this year in India indeed warrants wide attention as about 50 per cent of the country is facing drought[4] condition. With rapid fall in groundwater table, wells, tanks and streams are turning dry in most part of central and south Indian states. The farming, riverine and village communities are particularly at the receiving end of compounding water crisis. 

The cities of Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune are facing severe water scarcity which will turn worse in the coming days. The Cauvery river in Kodagu, Karnataka has registered unprecedentedly low flow[5]. The water level in Jayakwadi dam in Aurangabad has reached dead storage[6] and Mettur dam has been falling[7] sharply.

In a remedial but surprising move, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has set up a team of water marshals[8] to act against water tankers charging exorbitantly from residents. Before this, Nasik district administration has formed patrolling squads[9] to protect canal water from theft by farmers. Tribal areas in Siddipet, Telangana are reeling under dearth[10] of potable water. The forest fire[11] and increasing summer has forced wild animals move towards human populated areas.

However, on positive note, many individuals, groups and communities have silently been investing efforts in water conservation works. Many have yielded positive out-comes. Many other institutions including some initiatives at government level have also set an example before others in preserving the water resources and treating and reusing polluted water. Also, there are a number of remarkable water conservation efforts by farming communities across the country. This compilation tries to put together some of the positive water actions in India during the past one year. 

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Wetlands

World Wetlands Day 2019: Save Wetlands to Face Climate Change

The theme of the World Wetlands Day[i] 2019 is very fittingly, “Wetlands and Climate Change”. With climate change already upon us and its impact likely to increase due to increasing emissions and global temperatures, its high time we understand the importance of wetlands to face inevitable impacts of climate change, even as we must continue to do everything possible to reduce emissions.

On the occasion, Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has said[ii]: “Peatlands[iii] for example cover just three per cent of our world. Yet they store nearly a third of all land-based carbon. This is twice as much as all the world’s forests.

Continue reading “World Wetlands Day 2019: Save Wetlands to Face Climate Change”

Dams · Rivers

अनुपम मिश्र मेमोरियल मैडल 2018 से सम्मानित अरुण तिवारी जी से बातचीत

श्री अरुण तिवारी जी वरिष्ठ पत्रकार-लेखक हैं। आप  लगभग पिछले तीन दशकों से नदियों को बचाने और जल संरक्षण के लिए उल्लेखनीय लेखन कार्य करते आ रहे हैं। आपका पानी पोस्ट हिंदी ब्लॉग काफी चर्चित है जिसपर आप नियमित तौर पर नदियों और पानी से जुड़े विभिन्न पहलुओं और समकालीन विषयों पर जानकारियां साँझा करते रहते हैं।  आपके अनवरत प्रयासों को देखते हुए आपको 25 नवंबर 2018 को अनुपम मिश्र मेमोरियल मैडल से सम्मानित किया है। आपके विचारों को अधिक से अधिक लोगों तक पहुँचाने के लिए, प्रस्तुत है,  भीम सिंह रावत,  SANDRP द्वारा आपके साथ ईमेल के जरिये हुए बातचीत के प्रमुख अंश।  

अनुपम मिश्र मेमोरियल मैडल देश में नदी संरक्षण पर उत्कृष्ठ मीडिया काम के लिए प्रदान किया जाता है। यह सम्मान प्रख्यात पर्यावरणविद और गांधीवादी स्व. अनुपम मिश्र की स्मृति में, वर्ष 2017 से, इंडिया रिवर्स फोरम (भारतीय नदी जनसभा) के द्वारा वार्षिक तौर पर आयोजित भारतीय नदी दिवस के अवसर पर दिया जाता है।

भीम सिंह रावत: अनुपम मिश्र मैमोरियल मैडल के लिए बधाई। आप पिछले तीन दशकों से निरंतर अपने लेखन से नदियों की दुर्दशा और संरक्षण की ज़रूरत का मुद्दा उठाते रहे हैं। आज नदियों की क्या स्थिति है ? नदियों पर मुख्य संकट क्या है ?

अरुण तिवारी नदियां, पृथ्वी की नसें हैं। ये नसें निरंतर सिकुड़ रही हैं। नीली की बजाय, काली, पीली और भूरी पड़ती जा रही हैं। भारत में यह चित्र तेजी से बढ़ रहा है। 

नदी संकट के नाम पर प्रदूषण, वैश्विक तापमान में वृद्धि आदि कई कारणों को गिनाया जा सकता है, लेकिन भारतीय नदियों पर आसन्न प्रमुख संकट यह है कि हम नदियों की बहने की आज़ादी को तेज़ी के साथ छीनते जा रहे हैं। नदियां आज़ाद बहें; इसके लिए ज़रूरी है कि हम अपनी नदियों को उनका प्रवाह, उनका वेग, उनकी भूमि तथा प्रवाह के उनके साथी वापस लौटाएं। 

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Dams · Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk

World Fisheries Day 2018: India’s Increasing Fish Kill Incidents

21 November is celebrated as world fisheries day across the world. Apart from crucial source of food and livelihood to lakhs of fisherfolks in India, fish diversity determines the health of the water body including lakes, ponds and rivers. However with growing threats and pollution mass fish mortality has been taking place in various rivers and lakes in the country every year. On World Fisheries Day 2018 SANDRP has put together known mass fish kill incidents that took place this past year to highlight the gravity of threat so that corrective measures can be taken by respective Governments and others concerned.

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Dams · Urban Rivers

Chandigarh Water Sources; Streams: The City Not So Beautiful

Chandigarh is widely known for its well-designed urban areas and associated amenities. No doubt, the city is relatively congestion free and cleaner. The roads are wider, sideways have adequate space for walkers and cyclists and they are mostly covered under thick tree canopy earning its tag of ‘City Beautiful’.

However less is known about and rivers. This pictorial account tries to throw some light on present day situation of water sources like wells, ponds and rivers in and around Chandigarh town.

IMG20181019130053

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Dams

WORLD WATER DAY 2018: INDIA’S POSITIVE WATER STORIES

On occasion of World Water Day 2018, SANDRP put together reports of remarkable water conservation work done by individuals, villager community and organizations across the country.

Good that UN report this WWD says[i]: “The efforts by local communities in India to improve water availability have been lauded in a UN report that highlights the importance of finding nature-based solutions to meet global water challenges…. The report notes that reservoirs, irrigation canals and water treatment plants are not the only water management instruments at disposal. It also cited the example of China’s Sponge City which aims to recycle 70 per cent of rainwater.”

Image result for un wwd 2018 nature based water solution report

But the UN report[ii] does not mention that local options should be the top priority and should be exhausted before going for large projects. Unfortunately, Indian water resources establishment’s priority is Large dams and river linking. The UN report also does not say that local systems are bound to be neglected and destroyed in the shadow of large projects and where the governance is top down, unaccountable, non transparent and non participatory.

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Dams

DAM BUILDING MUST BE HALTED FOR A SAFE AND SECURE WORLD

Guest Blog by Manoj Misra

Rivers in different parts of the world have been dammed to fulfill human needs like water for irrigation, industries and domestic supplies. Then there are dams that have been raised to control floods or to produce electricity.

These have often been celebrated as human victory over nature, glorified as engineering marvel and claimed variously as highest, longest etc as a matter of national pride.

But rarely has there been a holistic assessment or appreciation of what a dam does to the natural entity called river and its adverse impacts on all the associated life forms, including humans.

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Dams

Narela: How A Growing Delhi Is Destroying Its Ponds

Ponds are an essential asset for our survival. They store rainwater and work as groundwater recharge points. They can also treat sewage to some extent. Not long back, ponds water was used for potable purposes.  Since ancient time, they have been central to numerous cultural and economic activities. In fact, village communities had certain set of rules for the preservation of village ponds. But things seem to have changed drastically specially in urban areas in recent decades. Through this field report comprising of latest images, we try to present current status of ponds in and around Narela in Delhi city.

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Dams · Free flowing rivers

अनुपम मिश्र जी का अंतिम वक्तव्यः नदियों को बचाने का अर्थ है समाज को बचाना

अत्यधिक दुखःद समाचार है कि अनुपम मिश्र जी नहीं रहे।  19 दिसंबर 2016 को प्रातः 05:27 पर दिल्ली के एम्स अस्पताल में  उनका देहांत हो गया।

पानी के मुद्दों और भारत की नदियों पर स्पष्ट विचारों वाले, सरल किंतु प्रभावशाली भाषाशैली के धनी, अत्यंत उदार और विनम्र अनुपम जी समान व्यक्तित्व दुर्लभ है।  जैसा रवि चोपड़ा जी ने कहा है वे सही में अनुपम थे।

अनुपम जी भारतीय नदी सप्ताह 2016 के आयोजन समिति के अध्यक्ष थे और वर्ष 2014 भगीरथी प्रयास सम्मान चुनाव समिति के सदस्य थे और वर्ष 2015 में इस समिति के अध्यक्ष बने।

खराब स्वास्थ्य के बावजूद वे भारतीय नदी सप्ताह की आयोजन समिति की बैठकों में वे लगातार उपस्थित रहें, अंतिम बार सितंबर 2016 की बैठक में वे मौजूद थे और भारतीय नदी सप्ताह 28 नवंबर 2016 के शुभांरभ के समय भी वे उपस्थित  रहे , जहॉ पर हमेशा की तरह उन्होने अपना सरल, स्पष्ट किंतु मर्मस्पर्शी व्याख्यान दिया। वे शाररिक रूप से थके और कमजोर थे , इस सबके बावजूद वे आए जो पर्यावरण के प्रति उनके समर्पण की मिसाल है।

व्यक्तिगत तौर पर वे मेरे (हिमांशु ठक्कर) प्रति बहुत उदार थे और मुझे हमेशा प्रेरित करते रहते थे। हमने कभी भी नहीं सोचा था कि एक दिन हमें उनसे अलग होना पडेगा। उनके चले जाने से देश और पर्यावरण को हुई क्षति की भरपाई नामुमकिन है। परंतु उनकी प्रकृति शिक्षा और अनुभव उनके द्वारा रचित स्पष्ट, सरल और सारंगर्भित लेखों और पुस्तकों के माध्यम से हमेशा हमारा मार्गदर्शन करती रहेंगी।

किताबों के समान उनके व्याख्यान भी ज्ञान और अनुभव से भरे हुए प्ररेणास्रोत है। उनके दिखाए मार्ग पर आगे बढ़ते रहने के लिए, दुख की घड़ी में हम, उनके द्वारा भारतीय नदी दिवस (28-30 नवंबर 2016) में दिए गए उनके अंतिम व्याख्यान को, उन्हें श्रृद्धांजलि के तौर पर अर्पित करते हुए, आपके साथ सांझा कर रहे हैं ।

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Bihar

People’s Advocacy for Protecting Ponds and Lakes in Bihar

 MITHILA (North Bihar) can be called a land of ponds. There are 9115 ponds in 1269 villages of Darbhanga district. Area of pond varies from about 1 acre (0.3 hectare) to 150 acres (60 hectares). Some of them are 500 to 1000 years old. The excavation of a pond was considered as a very pious act. After excavation of a pond, it is dedicated (UTSARGA) by its excavator to all living beings (human, cattle, bird, insect and species which survive in water) for their survival and need of water.

14. pond bund as a shelter for wild animals

This way, community has an age old tradition of customary rights over a pond for irrigating agricultural land; to use water for bathing, washing and cooking purpose; and water for bathing & drinking their cattle. Besides, these ponds help in recharging ground water; about 70 to 80 varieties of birds survive on small fishes and insects provided by these.

15. Pond bund for shelter for bird and wild animals

Moreover, the ponds in Mithila provide nutritional food in the forms of fish, snail, crabs to people and livelihood to weaker section/fish farmers; pond bund covered with trees, grasses and bush/shrub/herbs become a natural shelter/forest-belt for wild animals in rural areas. In fact, many ponds are a centre of religious and cultural festivals of all castes and sects.

10. Popular Religious Festival called Chhatha Pooja at Harahi Pond (1)

They also play a vital role in mitigation of flood and drought, and in harvesting of rain and river water.

13. Pond Bund & Bird shelter

In spite of several laws and judicial orders for protection of ponds, their very existence is in danger. Hundreds of ponds have been leveled to the ground and illegally sold by land mafia.  Pond bund, slope of pond bund to water bed, and inlet & outlet of pond have been illegally sold/occupied or encroached for construction of houses, shops, schools, hospitals and commercial complex by greedy, criminals and influential persons. People’s right to the ponds is denied and prevented by land/pond mafia. Sewage, garbage and medical garbage are routed to ponds, which is polluting its water to dangerous level.

12. Pond Bund as a Forest Belt

 With this background, Mithila Gram Vikas Parishad (MGVP) has started an initiative for protecting Mithila’s and Bihar’s Ponds through Advocacy and an extensive awareness-raising campaign:

— to protect community’s traditional right to the ponds and safe water.

— to protect livelihood, pond’s diversity and ecosystem including water security .

— to influence policy makers & planners to set up a ‘Bihar Pond Development Authority’ with clear

     defined responsibility to protect & conserve the ponds with local participation

—to prevent encroachment and illegal building construction over pond’s area, and health

    hazards due to dangerous pollution of pond water.

—to prepare Technical Guidelines, based on community practices and traditional wisdom of pond conservation, for protection, reclamation and conservation of ponds in Bihar, in consultation with environmentalist  & experts.

6. Ganga Sagar Scene of Encroachment

Contact Details of MGVP:

 MITHILA GRAM VIKAS PARISHAD, Professor Colony, West of Dighi Pond, Darbhanga,  Bihar, India, PIN: 846004,        

Contact Person: Narayan Jee, Email: mgvp4water@gmail.com,  Phone:06272-254085, Mob: 9955344811

Also see Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma’s article on this: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ponds-in-distress/article4960246.ece