Happy World Rivers Day!!

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!

Mighty Ganga at Rishikesh Photo: Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP

Mighty Ganga at Rishikesh Photo: Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP

Ganga, completely dry downstream Bhimgouda Barrage, Haridwar Photo: Parineeta, SANDRP

Ganga, completely dry downstream Bhimgouda Barrage, Haridwar Photo: Parineeta, SANDRP

DevPrayag, confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Rivers, forming Ganga, threatened by Kotlibhel dam projects. Photo: trekearth.com

DevPrayag, confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Rivers, forming Ganga, threatened by Kotlibhel dam projects. Photo: trekearth.com
The beautiful Baspa River, a tributary of Satluj in himachal Pradesh. A river renowned for its scenic beauty and spectacular fish. now thretened by 300 MW Baspa II Hydel Project, without fish ladders or passes. Photo: Debashsih Dey

The beautiful Baspa River, a tributary of Satluj in Himachal Pradesh. A river renowned for its scenic beauty and spectacular fish. Now threatened by 300 MW Baspa II Hydel Project, without fish ladders or passes. Photo: Debashsih Dey

The beautiful Nyamjangchu River, Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, now threatened by the 780 MW Nyamjangchu Hydel Project. Photo courtesy: Tenzing Rab Monpa

The beautiful Nyamjangchu River, Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, now threatened by the 780 MW Nyamjangchu Hydel Project. Photo courtesy: Tenzing Rab Monpa

Breathtaking floodplains of the Lohit River, an important tributary of the Brahmaputra, threatened by the 1750 MW Lower Demwe Dam.  Photo: Neeraj Vagholikar

Breathtaking floodplains of the Lohit River, an important tributary of the Brahmaputra, threatened by the 1750 MW Lower Demwe Dam.
Photo: Neeraj Vagholikar

The Brahmaputra during monsoon in Matmora, Dhakukhana Sub-division, Lakhimpur District, Assam.  Photo – Parag Jyoti Saikia, SANDRP

The Brahmaputra during monsoon in Matmora, Dhakukhana Sub-division, Lakhimpur District, Assam.
Photo – Parag Jyoti Saikia, SANDRP

A woman weaving below a ‘Chang ghar’, a house made on an elevated platform. People from Mishing ethnic community live on chang ghars which is traditional way coping with floods. This photo taken in Matmora area of Dhakukhana subdivision also shows the backwaters of the river Brahmaputra. Photo – Parag Jyoti Saikia, SANDRP

A woman weaving below a ‘Chang ghar’, a house made on an elevated platform. People from Mishing ethnic community live on chang ghars which is traditional way coping with floods. This photo taken in Matmora area of Dhakukhana subdivision also shows the backwaters of the river Brahmaputra. Photo – Parag Jyoti Saikia, SANDRP

 

Railway track washed away in the flash floods of Gai River I Dhemaji district of Assam of 15th August 2011.  Photo – Parag Jyoti Saikia, SANDRP

Railway track washed away in the flash floods of Gai River in Dhemaji district of Assam of 15th August 2011.
Photo – Parag Jyoti Saikia, SANDRP 

 

Fish, preserved in nets along Brahmaputra. Photo: Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP

Fish, preserved in nets along the mighty Brahmaputra. Photo: Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP

Gundia River and surrounding forests threatened by the 200 MW Gundia Dam and Yettinahole Diversion Photo: SANDRP

Gundia River and surrounding forests threatened by the 200 MW Gundia Dam and Yettinahole Diversion Photo: SANDRP

Estuary of the free flowing Shashtri River in Maharashtra

Estuary of the free flowing Shashtri River in Maharashtra, one of teh last remaining free flowing rivers of the country Photo: SANDRP

Seetha Nadi, free flowing river in Karnataka Western Ghats. Photo: SANDRP

Seetha Nadi, free flowing river in Karnataka Western Ghats. Photo: SANDRP

Fishing in Vashishthi Estuary, Western Ghats. Photo: SANDRP

Fishing in Vashishthi Estuary, Western Ghats. Photo: SANDRP

The beautiful Cauvery, shackeled in many small hydel projects at the gaganchukki falls, Karnataka. Photo: SANDRP

The beautiful Cauvery, shackeled in many small hydel projects at the gaganchukki falls, Karnataka. Photo: SANDRP

The lovely bharachukki falls on Cuavery, also shackeled by many mini hydel projects. Photo: SANDRP

The lovely bharachukki falls on Cuavery, also shackeled by many mini hydel projects. Photo: SANDRP

Estuary of the Karli River in Western Ghats. Photo SANDRP

Estuary of the Karli River in Western Ghats. Photo SANDRP

Thinking like a River at Athirappilly Falls on Chalakudy River, threatned by 164 MW Athirappilly Hydel Project Photo: SANDRP

Thinking like a River at Athirappilly Falls on Chalakudy River, threatned by 164 MW Athirappilly Hydel Project Photo: SANDRP

Celebrating RIvers!! The Kumaradhara in Karnataka, near site for Kukke Stage II Mini Hydel Proejct Photo: SANDRP

Celebrating RIvers!! The Kumaradhara in Karnataka, near site for Kukke Stage II Mini Hydel Proejct Photo: SANDRP

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