From The Guardian: Cities are expanding at a pace and scale far greater than at any time in history. The global urbanisation boom is devouring colossal amounts of sand–the key ingredient of concrete and asphalt. In the past few years, China alone has used more cement than the US used in the entire 20th century.
rivers & water bodies
Nowadays there are no pilots, there are no independent evaluations, no concept of conflict of interest. I am wondering if this is also the case even in your “Rally for Rivers”. This letter’s not just about your rally, but expresses my concerns about “development” in this country. And how the Babas are all in it.
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.’”
From Daily O: Two important things stand out: lack of information at the grassroots level and the attitude of policymakers, and to some extent people too, towards dealing with floods. Assam’s information network has improved, but population explosion forces people to risk lives for a few weeks of floods by living at the river bank.
From Hindustan Times: The NGT has repeatedly criticised Bengaluru’s civic authorities this year for letting the city’s water bodies become toxic waste dumps. The central body could find similarly mistreated lakes in countless Indian cities, where wetlands are being lost due to urbanisation, changes in land use and pollution. What lakes have survived are shrinking.
From EarthaMag: India recently conferred biodiversity heritage status on the Ameenpur Lake on the fringes of Hyderabad. Other sites across the country also received this distinction. But what sets Ameenpur Lake apart is that the tag is the first of its kind in the country for a water body, and the first in an urban environment.
From Counterview.org: The Sabarmati River Front has been in the news lately as a model of “river beautification”. When in reality, it is a dead river, filled with effluents and sewage. It was “rejuvenated” with Narmada water, which came at a great cost of the displacement of lakhs of people and destruction of the environment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.