Indians and South Asians dont need a reason to celebrate our rivers. Rivers, in their myriad avatars, are celebrated and worshipped across the Indian subcontinent, by religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism alike.
Most of our rivers are dying and the living, healthy and free flowing rivers are increasingly threatened. Indian Rivers have NO legal protection and there is no law that says that rivers should have freshwater! In the absence of political will and transparent and democratic governance more and more rivers are being damaged, diverted, destroyed and dried.
The species of flowing rivers are dwindling, the communities that depend are them are becoming increasingly vulnerable, governance surrounding rivers is becoming more and more non-transparent, strait jacketed and ecologically destructive. Decision makers are refusing to accept the dynamics, linkages, interdependencies and LIFE of rivers.
Religions too, have FAILED miserably in protecting rivers that they seem to worship so publicly.
We need to understand and appreciate the meaning and value of a healthy, flowing and giving river. Is river only a channel supplying drinking water? Is it only an irrigation canal? Is it only a powerhouse of electricity? Is it only an open drain to transport our sewage and effluents? Is it only an abstract religious idea in which we wash our sins?
What is the worth of a flowing river for us and the decision makers?
We do need every excuse to celebrate, nurture and contemplate our rivers. We need to take time and think more deeply about our connected future.
Last sunday of Sepetmeber has been celebrated as World Rivers Day by a small province in Canada since the past 33 years. Down the years, many countries, organisations and groups have joined in and this year, World Rivrs Day is being celebrated in over 60 countries across the world. (http://worldriversday.com/) Link to SANDRPs Note on World Rivers Day last year: http://sandrp.in/rivers/World_Rivers_Day_PR_Sept_30_2012.pdf
On this occassion, we look at some of our most spectacular, generous and threatened rivers and hope that the coming year will give us more reasons to celebrate our rivers!
The Brahmaputra during monsoon in Matmora, Dhakukhana Sub-division, Lakhimpur District, Assam.
Photo – Parag Jyoti Saikia, SANDRP
Gundia River and surrounding forests threatened by the 200 MW Gundia Dam and Yettinahole Diversion Photo: SANDRP