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rivers & water bodies

How the disastrous Ken-Betwa link project endangers India’s tigers, rivers and mountains

Ken-Betwa river-linking project, if realised, will destroy livelihoods and ecology, including a portion of the Panna Tiger Reserve. Curiously enough, ground reports show that farmers in the project area are themselves not keen on it. Also included is a documentary, ‘Links of a Broken Chain’, as well as a detailed technical analysis of the project.

How Bidar beat back the drought

From The Hindu: Bidar’s Naubad karez, or tunnel wells, are an ancient engineering marvel. It’s a complex system, which works inversely underground to leverage gravity — that is, the plateau’s natural gradient ascends from the mouth to the mother well but the tunnel underneath has been cut to descend from the mother well to the mouth.

How come Bangalore doesn’t give an inkling of the severe drought in its backyard?

Devinder Sharma writes: The development process is so designed that cities have been made drought proof over the years… Life in the mega city does not even provide an inkling of a severe drought prevailing everywhere in the state, where as many as 139 of the 176 taluks have been declared drought hit this year.

Yogendra Yadav: Tamil Nadu’s drought is also a policy-induced disaster

From The Tribune: The drought has affected 21 of the 32 districts, including the ‘rice bowl’ area of the Cauvery delta, where we travelled. Farmers’ distress was visible everywhere. This is not just a natural disaster. Our travel made it clear that a good deal of farmers’ distress is due to man-made or policy-induced disaster.

A rare, pristine estuary comes under threat in Karnataka

TheWire.in reports: The Aghanashini is one of the last free flowing rivers in Karnataka: it has no major industrial establishments, dams or townships on its banks. It is in this rich and highly productive estuary that the state government plans to build a multi-purpose estuarine port, which’s now one last step away from final clearance.

Worst drought in 140 years leads to farmer deaths, riots, policy impasse in Cauvery Delta

Keith Schneider reports: The thickening chain of death and sorrow in the Cauvery Delta, formed from the powerful links of water, agricultural, and industrial policy, is bludgeoning Tamil Nadu. The human toll, counted in the escalating numbers of shattered hearts, is a disturbing measure of how extravagant, water-consuming development practices no longer fit environmental conditions.

Drought in South India: A Firstpost special series

This is the introductory article in Firstpost’s nine-part series of ground reports on the ongoing water crisis in south India. The series will cover various aspects of the near-calamitous situation in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, with the onset of blistering heat waves that are putting more pressure on existing water resources.

This is how alarming Tamil Nadu’s water crisis is

Shoaib Daniyal reports: The theatrics of the recent protest by Tamil Nadu farmers in Delhi might seem odd, but it was driven by a disastrous situation in the state. This country-wide map of water reservoir levels shows just how bad things are: the state has 81% less water in its reservoirs than its 10-year average.

What does it mean for a river to have rights?

From The Hindu: The rights do not stem from an intrinsic identity or status of the river, but more from their use for humans; and giving them ‘personhood’ or legal status makes it very human-centred. Can rivers not be recognised as having identity, worth, dignity, and rights as intrinsic qualities, not because they serve us?

A first: Indian court declares Ganga, Yamuna as living legal entities

Live Mint reports: The Uttarakhand high court has recognized the Ganga and the Yamuna as so-called living entities, giving the rivers that have seen years of damage, a legal voice. Animals, for instance, aren’t considered living entities by law. It’s the first time a court has recognized a non-human as a living entity in India.

How to steal a river: New York Times on India’s rampant sand mining

The hundreds of millions of Indians migrating from villages to cities require up to a billion square yards of new real estate development annually. Current construction already draws more than 800 million tons of sand every year, mostly from India’s waterways. All the people I spoke to assumed that much of it is taken illegally.

City of burning lakes: experts fear Bangalore will be uninhabitable by 2025

Deepa Bhasthi writes in The Guardian: The illegal dumping of waste mixed with mass untreated sewage in Bangalore is creating a water crisis which threatens residents’ health–and is causing the city’s famous lakes to catch fire. This is the new story of the city, which some scientists believe will be “unliveable” in a few years.

The mind’s river: How a life along the Cauvery stilled my anxieties

Wildlife biologist Nisarg Prakash writes: After a flare-up in my depression and increasingly erratic behaviour, I was shunted out from a landscape that I once knew like the back of my hand. It was here that I’d retreated to the land, to the hills, valleys and streams as a poultice for the cuts and bruises.

‘Ganga, Yamuna are drains, no party cares’

The Third Pole reports: Over 140 million people are eligible to vote as Uttar Pradesh —the land of the Ganga and the Yamuna— goes to polls. Everybody agrees that the poison affects drinking water and irrigation. Still, the apathy is mirrored in town after town in eastern UP. Candidates rarely address it in their campaigns.

Environ-Mental? The bizarre ‘green’ ideas of our netas

India Water Portal reports: The year 2016 was an abysmal year in terms of environmental policy and conservation in India. There were also many initiatives worth talking about. Any initiative, however, is only as good as those managing it. Here we talk about four people in the country who made news for their water-related actions.

Tribute: Anupam Mishra, the chronicler of India’s indigenous water wisdom

Noted water conservationist Anupam Mishra passed away at the age of 68 on Monday. Here’s a tribute and a video where he talks with wisdom and wit about the amazing feats of engineering from centuries ago by the people of India’s desert regions to harvest water. These ancient aqueducts and stepwells are still used today.

Himanshu Thakkar on India’s river battles

The Modi government had come with the promise of a better future for India’s rivers. Unfortunately, the promise remains unfulfilled, and there seems to be no roadmap in sight for our rivers. There’s nothing in the policies, plans or projects of the current government that would provide any ray of hope, now or in future.

An open letter to our fellow Indians on the Indus Water Treaty

Soumya Dutta writes: Pakistan is a dry country, with average annual rainfall of less than 250 mm, less than our desert district of Bikaner. The Indus, which India is now threatening to block, irrigates around 70% of the ‘food basket’ farmlands in Punjab & Sindh; it’s literally the life line for the people of Pakistan.

Soon, we may not have a Cauvery river to fight over

Nityanand Jayaraman writes: The complexity of river systems, the hydrological dynamics that determine their ebb and flow, and anthropogenic confounders such as land-use change and climate change had no influence on the tribunal order… Today’s planners try to spare water for ecological flows, not realising that ecological flows are what keep the river a river.

India can avoid future water wars by mixing old and new solutions

Chetan Chauhan reports: Maharashtra and Rajasthan have started community based Jal Swabhilambhan schemes that give ownership of government-aided watershed management to the communities. “We just aid and assist the villagers in creating durable water assets. The villages decide what they want,” said Sriram Vedire of Rajasthan Water Authority, who initiated the programme in early 2016.

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