This multi-media report by Siddharth Agarwal based on a walk along the majestic Ken River in central India, now part of a contentious river-linking project, shows how essential it is to the communities living around it.
The idea of walking along a river has many key reasons, but the most important of them is to interact, discuss with and document the life of the actual stakeholders of this natural system. Traversing flood plains and riverbanks on foot takes us right where the story is, not in a far removed space, where even a few kilometres away from it can be a major shift. Location plays a wonderful role in rejigging memory and helps people imagine past situations. The discussions on the scale of the importance of a river suddenly have a realism and depth.
PM Modi inaugurated the first multi-modal terminal on the Ganga river in Varanasi on Nov. 12 under a project aimed at promoting inland waterways as a cheaper and more environment-friendly means of transport. The multi-modal terminals are being built as part of the central government’s Jal Marg Vikas Project that aims to develop the stretch of the river Ganga between Varanasi and Haldia for navigation of large vessels weighing up to 1,500-2,000 tonnes. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pm-modi-to-inaugurate-1st-multi-modal-terminal-on-ganga-river-in-varanasi-1944924 (9 Nov. 2018)
Two environmentalists take a walk along a river and find that they should have brought along the policymakers, planners, engineers and politicians claiming to help it.
When heading out on an adventure, it is standard practice to look at satellite imagery of the area to chart an informed plan of action. However, when we were preparing for our walk along the Ken river, we couldn’t access a reliable map of the watercourse all the way from source to mouth.
We tried tracing the river on a map using satellite data for cues, moving upstream from an established point of identity: Chilla ghat, the confluence of the Ken with the Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh. However, this exercise proved difficult and led us astray multiple times, especially in the upper catchment area. It was only later, when walking along the river, did we realise that this was because almost all of Ken’s tributaries have a larger discharge than the Ken itself. Our virtual search for the Ken’s source kept taking us to the source of its tributaries in nearby hills. Thanks to the walk, we now have an actual and detailed map of the river that we intend to share soon.
The various aspects of tragic Dam Disaster in Mekong Basin in Laos are still unfolding. But it is clear from many accounts that it was an avoidable, man-made disaster due to neglect of contractors, decision makers, consultants and supervising agencies. There is a lot we can learn from this if we want to avoid such disasters in India. We still do not have credible Dam Safety Law or institution, CWC is clearly not the right agency considering the conflict of interest with the various other roles of CWC. But for now let us look at the reports of Laos Dam Disaster.
Reminding the world of one of the worst dam disasters, the under construction dam Xepian Xe Nam Noy Hydro power project breached releasing 5 billion cubic metres of water in Southern Laos on July 23.
The gushing water current swept the surrounding leading to death of about 26 people and displacing about 6600 residents. As per report hundreds of people are still missing from neighbouring villages of Yai Thae, Hinlad, Mai, Thasengchan, Tha Hin, and Samong, which bore the brunt of flooding. The deluge has reportedly destroyed thousands of homes.
सैनड्रप व वेदितम, प्रेस विज्ञप्ति ,पन्ना, वीरवार 19 अपै्रल 2018
1 केन नदी पदयात्रा के बारे में
केन नदी का नाम भारत की स्वच्छ नदियों में शुमार है। 427 किमी लंबी केन नदी, रीठी विकासखण्ड़, कटनी जिला, मध्यप्रदेश से निकलकर चिल्ला घाट, बांदा जिला उत्तरप्रदेश में यमुना नदी में समाहित हो जाती है। केन नदी राष्ट्रीय नदी गंगा के जलागम क्षेत्र का हिस्सा है। इसे करीब से देखने व समझने के लिए नदियों पर अध्ययनरत संस्थाओं साउथ एशिया नेटवर्क आन डैमस्, रिवर्स एंड पीपल (सैनड्रप) दिल्ली और वेदितम इंडिया फाडेशन, कलकता ने मिलकर केन नदी पदयात्रा का आयोजन किया। इससे पहले दोनों सस्ंथाए गंगा और यमुना नदी पर भी लंबी यात्राए कर चुकी हैं।
The field which is believed to be origin of Ken River in Rithi block, Katni district. (All pics taken during Ken River Yatra, SANDRP & Veditum)
कठिन भोगौलिक क्षेत्र के चलते इस पदयात्रा को तीन चरणों (जून 2017, अक्तूबर 2017 एवं अपै्रल 2018) में पूरा किया गया। इस यादगार पदयात्रा को पूरा करने में 33 दिन लगे। लगभग 600 किलो मीटर पैदल सफर के दौरान बांदा, पन्ना जिलों में केन नदी के तटों पर स्थित 100 ये अधिक गावों से गुजरना हुआ और 60 से अधिक गाववालों से केन नदी के अतीत एवं वर्तमान स्थिति, नदी क्षेत्र में जल स्रोतों की स्थिति, भूजल स्तर, खेती-सिंचाई, वन-वनस्पति, पशु-पक्षी, केन-बेतवा नदी जोड़ योजना, नदी बाढ़ प्रकृति, केन नदी जैव विविधता आदि नदीतंत्र संबंधी अनेक विषयों पर बात ग्रामीणों, किसानों, मछुवारों, मल्लाहों, महिलाओं से विस्तृत चर्चा की गई।
SANDRP & VEDITUM: Press Release, Panna, Apr 19, 2018
About the Yatra: The Ken River is considered to be one of India’s cleaner rivers. It is part of the Ganga basin and meets the Yamuna at Chilla Ghat in Banda District, Uttar Pradesh. To closely understand the Ken, this walk along the Ken was organised by SANDRP – South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) from Delhi and Veditum India Foundation from Kolkata. In the past, these organisations have also undertaken long journeys along rivers Yamuna and Ganga.
The difficult terrain of the Ken River and the harsh weather required this journey to be undertaken in multiple parts (June 2017, October 2017 and April 2018). It required a total of 33 days to complete this over 600 km journey on foot, where we discussed issues of the river, water, agriculture, the proposed Ken Betwa project and other socio-environmental topics with villagers in over 60 villages.
On occasion of International Day of Action for Rivers 14 March 2018, SANDRP presents a compilation of positive rivers stories that took place in the year 2017. The report highlights the exemplary rivers restoration work done by communities, village Panchayats. It also attempts to acknowledge remarkable on going protests and struggle by fisherfolks, villagers and river communities in rural areas to protect the lifelines from unsustainable development projects. The report also presents the interesting “River Marches” where citizens have come forward to take actions against the threats on rivers in Urban areas and encouraging “River Walks” helping citizens rediscover their bond with RIVERS. Continue reading “Positive Rivers Stories 2017: Citizens Reconnecting with Rivers”→
This story of Bandi River from Rajasthan is sixth in the series of online stories of urban rivers from across India. Please share your feedback and provide us with suggestions (read more in appendix). If you have any urban river stories or images that you might want to share, please send them to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest blog by The Coastal Resource Centre, Chennai
This stories of Adyar and Kosasthalaiyar Rivers from Chennai is fifth in the series of online stories of urban rivers from across India. Please share your feedback and provide us with suggestions (read more in appendix). If you have any urban river stories or images that you might want to share, please send them to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The South Indian coastal city of Chennai is home to more than 5 million people. The city is predominantly flat and consists of sandy coastal plains drained by three major rivers the Adyar, Cooum and Kosasthalaiyar. The latter is the largest and empties through a backwater and estuary at the Ennore Creek.
Because of its flat topography, early settlements in the region were possible only after making arrangements to hold rainwater through harvesting structures like Eri’s or irrigation tanks. Surplus from the tank network was designed to drain into rivers and thence to the Bay of Bengal.
Between 1980 and 2010, the built up area inside the city has grown from 47 square km to 402 sq km. During the same period, area under waterbodies declined from 186 square km to 71 square km.
Degrading land-use change and the abuse of the three rivers in the name of urbanisation is a major factor in the city’s increased vulnerabilities to droughts and floods.
One of the youngest participants of the river walk along the Godavari, which happened on 10th December 2017, asked – “आपली गोदावरी खरच मेली का?” (Is our river Godavari, really dead?)
Such an innocent query, but it raises multiple issues and questions – Why we worship, and simultaneously pollute our rivers? Do we abuse rivers because we haven’t understood them? To deliberate upon these questions, I present a case study of Godavari River in Nashik city. In a span of about 30 km from its origin at Brahmagiri Mountain, the Godavari encounters a fast developing and urbanizing city of Nashik.