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The great Indian irrigation deceit

J. Harsha, Director, Central Water Commission, writes: India fails to deliver water in time, and in adequate quantities to small landholdings (< 1 hectare) belonging to marginal farmers (constituting 85 per cent of total farmers) cultivating in 43.64 million hectares of canal-irrigated areas. The impact of this great Indian irrigation deceit is enormous on agriculture

Why is the Indian govt silent on this 86-year-old’s fast for the river Ganga?

From Mainstream Weekly: Dr. G. D. Agrawal (now Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand) is one of India’s most distinguished environmental engineers, who served as the first Member-Secretary of India’s Central Pollution Control Board. Fasting for almost 100 days now to save the river Ganga, he’s now on his sixth, and in his own words, final “fast-unto-death”.

Re-reading Tagore in the age of development gone mad

Aseem Shrivastava writes: Tagore’s play Mukta-Dhara foretells the manner in which people across the country have been losing their freedom— those uprooted by development quite obviously so, those ‘benefitting’ from it (mostly living in cities) more subtly and invisibly. This is the ecologically fatal price of ‘progress’, which Rabindranath anticipated in much of his work.

Madhav Gadgil: A people’s campaign to rebuild Kerala

From The Hindu: It’s imperative that we abandon business as usual. We cannot just focus on man-made capital; but enhance the sum total of man-made, natural, human and social capital. The new regime that we usher in should acknowledge that it is local communities that have a genuine stake in the health of their ecosystems.

Kerala floods: Time for introspection and amends as water recedes

From Mongabay: It was the worst flooding in Kerala in nearly a century, with all 14 districts on red alert. With over 445 dead, a million still in relief camps, its impact will last for years. But the future can be more climate-resilient if grassroots communities realise start working for the conservation of fragile ecologies

Modi govt is building the world’s tallest dam – in earthquake-prone Himalayas!

Pancheshwar Dam, kingpin of the river-linking project, will be the Himalayas’ largest reservoir. It’ll be located in one of india’s most seismically active areas, yet the project has been marred by shockingly poor environment appraisal. With little chances of it being economically viable, the project is nothing but a lucrative, contractor-friendly pipedream, writes Himanshu Thakkar.

Polavaram: The pointless mega dam that will displace 4,00,000

Dam’ned, a documentary by filmmaker Saraswati Kavula, takes a closer look at how the Polavaram Dam project affects the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people, with dubious benefits expected. Despite increasing evidence of the destructive consequences of big dams across the world, why do our governments keep pushing for these mega projects, she asks.

The price of development: Gujarat’s dams are now drowning the state

Sneha Vakharia reports: Gujarat’s chronic floods, underreported and devastating, tell the story of Narendra Modi’s failure to deliver the state from water scarcity, and the onset of a new kind of problem, with crucial political implications. Since the state began its battle to control its water, increasingly and unforgivingly, the water has started fighting back.

‘Nature gives us hope’: A tribute to Latha Anantha, river guardian

Dr Latha Anantha, an expert on rivers and one of the first names to crop up in the struggle to protect them, is no more. The founder and moving spirit behind the River Research Centre, Kerala, she was best known for her efforts to save the Chalakudy river. She’d been diagnosed with cancer in 2014.

India’s big dam mania brings achche din to its corrupt dam lobby

Himanshu Thakkar writes: Can we expect any improvement in state of our water resources under the new minister Shri Nitin Gadkari? It was interesting that after taking over the portfolio from Uma Bharti, Gadkari’s first stop was Maharashtra, to offer the Chief Minister Rs 55 000 crores for same corruption-ridden irrigation projects in three years.

Salil Tripathi: The real cost of big development projects

It’s been said that the Sardar Sarovar dam would provide many with access to water and power. But there’s no such thing as a free thaali, as Gujaratis, of all people, must surely know. Someone has to bear the cost, and that cost, as with all major development projects, has been borne by the poor.

Medha Patkar: Politics over Narmada, once again

From The Wire: As the Gujarat government rushes to close the Sardar Sarovar dam gates ahead of elections, 40,000 residents of the Narmada valley are facing a nightmare of submergence. It’s this injustice and violence, and the development paradigm debate –development for whom and at what cost– that makes Narmada a litmus test for India.

Dam busters! The nascent green movement liberating rivers and freeing fish

From Hakai Magazine: For almost 15 years, Harold and Gephard have removed five dams from Connecticut waterways. They spend most of their time meeting owners whose ties to their dams can go back centuries. “It’s about trying to get dam owners to do something that they can’t quite decide. You have to basically say, ‘trust me.’”

What Gujarat govt calls ‘historic’, could be catastrophic for 1,00,000 villagers

Fifty-six years after the foundation stone for the Sardar-Sarovar dam on the Narmada was laid, the Gujarat government has got permission from the Centre to shut its gates. It will open the gates of misery for more than 100,000 people, whose houses and land are likely to get submerged. A Down To Earth ground report.

Sounds of silence: a forest that survived ‘development’

Jemima Rohekar writes: So secluded is Silent Valley that there is no written record of any human habitation in its core area. It is also the site of the first and most bitterly fought ‘environment vs development’ debate in India. Silent Valley reinforces the fact that forests and their resident biodiversity are our greatest wealth.

Tribute: T. Hanumantha Rao, champion of water management alternatives

T. Hanumantha Rao, irrigation engineering expert and the brain behind a participative method of water management based on his ‘Four Waters’ concept, passed away on Sunday. The Four Waters concept, explained in this video, brought rich benefits to Rajasthan, where even drought-affected areas improved over the years. Several other states are actively pursuing his recommendations.

The hydropower paradox: is this energy as clean as it seems?

Hydropower is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions: a new study shows that the world’s hydroelectric dams are responsible for as much methane emissions as Canada. The study finds that methane, which is at least 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide, makes up 80% of the emissions from water reservoirs created by dams.

Flashback: Arundhati Roy’s classic essay on the Narmada resistance

The Narmada Bachao Andolan began 31 years ago as a protest against the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river, and went on to raise questions about the very development model India has embraced. Today, with the NBA reviving their landmark struggle for justice, we are re-publishing author Arundhati Roy’s landmark 1999 essay on the topic.

Spotlight: The Narmada valley’s unfolding social and ecological disaster

Its 25 years since the Narmada Bachao Andolan started mobilising resistance against the destruction of life and livelihood in the Narmada valley. Today, with more than two lakh people who’ve not been resettled threatened with submergence, that resistance is being revived. A closer look at the history and politics of big dams on the Narmada river.

Athirappilly: Kerala’s destructive dam project that refuses to die

Neha Miriam Kurian writes: The Left-Front government in Kerala is reviving the Athirappilly Hydro Electric Project against stiff resistance from local tribes and environmentalists. If implemented, it will displace the ancient hunter-gatherer Kadar tribe and submerge the only remaining low elevation riparian forests left in the Western Ghats, one of the world’s eight biodiversity ‘hotspots’.

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