SANDRP

Godavari: Worshiped, Destroyed & Forgotten River of Nashik

Guest Blog by Shilpa Dahake

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.

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Riverbed Mining 2017 -II- States Look To Centre, Centre Dilutes Norms

In the first part we see, how under business as usual scenario, incidences of illegal riverbed mining going on unabated across the country. Reports suggest that Uttar Pardesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Goa have emerged leading states affected by illegal sand mining.

In 2017, countless reports have exposed politicians-officials-mafia nexus responsible behind mindless plundering of scarce natural resource in open violations of norms. Similarly, throughout the year, there have been several violent attacks on villagers, activists, government officials by sand mafia. In a whole more than 26 people are killed in incidences involving illegal extraction of sand.

In this detailed second part, SANDRP presents account of various measures taken by different State Governments and Central Government to check the unsustainable riverbed mining practices. The third and concluding part would cover legal interventions initiated by respective Judicial bodies to reign in the unsustainable, unlawful sand mining activities across India.

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Hindon River Gazetteer: An Introduction

Guest Blog by Manu Bhatnagar, INTACH

During India Rivers Day on Nov 25, 2017, a Gazetteer on Hindon River, part of Yamuna River basin in North India, was released by Shri Shashi Shekhar, former secretary, Union Ministry of Water Resources, Govt of India. It is first in a series of River Gazetteer that India Rivers Week hopes to bring out. Each Gazetteer is expected to provide a overview of various aspects of the concerned river basin. The Hindon River Gazetteer, titled “Reviving Hindon River: A Basin Approach” has been brought out by INTACH. This is the first attempt at building a basin level picture of a medium river. The document, we hope, would serve as a first template subsequent gazetteers on other rivers. We invite feedback from all concerned.

This article provides an overview of the contents of the Hindon River Gazetteer. For hard copy of the Gazetteerr, please contact: Manu Bhatnagar manucentaur@hotmail.com. It’s a 248 + xi page report in addition to additional maps provided for pull out viewing. The report is divided into five chapters has five annexures, 158 images, 75 maps (pullout maps are additional) and 77 tables. One of the short comings of the quickly brought out publication is that it does not contain list of acronyms used in the report. 

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Illegal Sand Mining 2017: Rivers Continue To Lose Mindless Mining Battle

Undoubtedly sand is essential part of river ecosystem. Like flow and fish it helps rivers stay healthy. It’s critical for ground water recharge, replenishes the nutrients in moving water, supplies lean season flow to rivers and provides habitat to numerous forms of aquatic and riparian fauna.

Despite all this, illegal and unsustainable mining of sand and boulders is widespread across the country taking heavy toll on the lifelines of modern civilization. Continuing our effort to assess the scale of threat and level of devastation illegal sand mining is posing to our rivers, SANDRP presents State wise 2017 year end review on the issue. This is third straight year that we are doing this after 2015 and 2016. The subsequent reports would cover Governments’ role and Judicial interventions to reign in the unsustainable, unlawful sand mining activities across India.

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DRP News Bulletin 18 December 2017 (Why PM Also Needed To Mention This About Turial HEP)

The Prime Minister, on Dec 16, 2017, while dedicating to nation the 60 MW Turial HEP, should have also mentioned:

– PUBLIC PROTESTS: The project faced strong protests from local people, so much so that work had to be stopped for over 7 years from 2004 to 2011. Even a day before PM dedicated the project, people took out a protest march.

– NO PUBLIC CONSULTATION:  One of the reasons people protested was that the project did not have any proper public consultation.

– NO PROPER IMPACT ASSESSMENT: Another reason for people’s anger was no proper environment or social impact assessment, or proper compensation and rehabilitation.

– HIGH COST: The project cost was Rs 368.72 Crores, but now already has gone above Rs 1441 crores officially, likely to go up further. That means per MW cost is already above Rs 24 crores, one of the highest in the country. WHO WILL PAY THE HIGH COST OF ELECTRICITY FROM THE PROJECT?

– HUGE COST ESCALATION from Rs 369 crores to over Rs 1440 crores

– HUGE TIME OVER RUN: The project was supposed to be completed many decades back but  has seen huge time over run, not only because of protests, but also because of inadequate mobilisation by the contractor, poor approach road, power house slope failure, among many other reasons.

This latest project once again shows that big hydro is no longer viable, one wishes, the Prime Minister would also highlight these realities in his speeches.

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Mithi – Walking Along A Running River

 Guest Blog by Gopal MS aka Slogan Murugan

This story of Mithi River from Mumbai is third 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 ht.sandrp@gmail.com and asid@veditum.org.

PLZ DO WATCH THE AMAZING 43 frame slide show.

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Remembering Latha

It took some time to write. Latha chechi and me talked just 4 days before she passed away on Nov 16, 2017. As usual, it was about when we will meet next and go to Athirappilly Falls and travel to the river together. Her voice was light, it had a surreal gentleness. We agreed on everything, which was rare. After just a few minutes, Unni gently took the phone from her and told me she needed to sleep. It just didn’t feel right.

We first met virtually about 10 years back, discussing rivers and forests and then, through her initiative, came together to organize the first civil society workshop on Environmental Flows in January 2009 with SANDRP.  Since then, Latha Chechi has been a bubbling, enthusiastic and wise constant. We worked on several submissions together, discussed strategies and ideas, eating each other’s heads about what worked and what can work and always, I was always taken aback by her unmatched way of linking issues.

She told me, “You need one particular river. Work on all the rivers of world, but have that one river to go back to.” Read More

Riverine Fisherfolk as Mascots of flowing rivers and how 4 projects treat them today

When I was documenting a tiny, free-flowing river in Maharashtra Western Ghats named Shastri, the common thread from headwaters to estuary was Fishing! It was everywhere, in all forms, including dozens of fish species and fishing practices, including everyone: men, women, children, otters, crocs, storks. Across the country, buzzing, diversified fisheries with old, complex narratives indicate a rich river. And the palette just gets more vivid, nuanced and colorful with the size of the river.

More than 10 million Indians from some of the most vulnerable groups depend on rivers for their livelihood and nutritional needs. This staggering number can be an underestimate as several riverine fisherfolk do not bring their produce to the market and our livelihood census hardly captures the intricacies of riverine fisheries sector. Despite the huge dependence and critical importance of riverine fisheries, the sector continues being ignored and abused. The reasons behind the exploitation are at the heart of a deeper, more troubling discourse: ownership and appropriation of the river as a natural resource. Read More

DRP News Bulletin 11 December 2017 (Shoddy EIA, People’s Opposition & Unviable Pancheshwar Project Highlighted In Brilliant NDTV Documentary)

A brilliant coverage by NDTV INDIA at PRIME TIME (08 Dec 2017) on so many issues related to the proposed controversial Pancheshwar Dam, World’s tallest dam in the Himalayas that has neither credible impact assessment nor proper public hearings. Please watch and share.

Meanwhile, residents and various political organizations at Almora, Pithoragarh and Jhulaghat staged a protest against public hearings held for environmental clearance of Pancheshwar projec, saying that the sessions were unfair and flouted procedure. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/pancheshwar-row-residents-protest-against-public-hearings/articleshow/61946615.cms

The wrong process of dam clearance for the Pancheshwar and Rupaligad Dams have been strongly condemned by Mahakali Lok Sangathan, Uttarakhand Parivartan Party, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, the National Alliance of People’s Movements: Uttarakhand Akta Manch, Delhi Solidarity Group and others. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/1874936619200669

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NAG – The River That Lends Life And A Name To Nagpur

Guest Blog by by Nivedita Khandekar

This story from Nag River in Nagpur is second 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 ht.sandrp@gmail.com and asid@veditum.org.

With an area of little over 200 sq kms, Nagpur, the geographical centre of India, is a lucky city to have 11 lakes and two rivers within municipal limits. Nag Nadi – which lends its name to the city – is the main river along with the other, Pili Nadi; the two later merge and further join the Kanhan river near the city outskirts.

It has always been believed that the river starts as an outflow from the western weir of Ambazari Lake in west Nagpur. In 1998, a bunch of researchers went to further explore the catchment of the lake and found the actual origin of the river is up north of the lake at a place called Lava, more than 25 kms from this western weir. 

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