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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

‘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.

Tribute: A mountain and a movement: the Save Western Ghats March

From The Hindu:  Straddling six states, the 1600-odd kilometre-long Western Ghats is home to an astonishing diversity of life and supports innumerable communities and cultures. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the remarkable 100-day ‘Save Western Ghats March’, a landmark event in Indian environmental activism, which became the model for numerous campaigns to follow.

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.

Landmark NGT judgments hold private firms, not god or government, responsible

Nehmat Kaur writes: The National Green Tribunal covered new ground for the ‘polluter pays’ principle by invoking it in two landmark judgments recently. Activists are hopeful that this will help deter corporations from functioning with impunity, under the cover of governmental apathy. The judgments in both cases acknowledged governmental inaction in dealing with environmental damage.

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.