We are all aware of the immense ecological, cultural and social significance of rivers originating and flowing through the Western Ghats. This includes source regions of East flowing rivers like Krishna, Godavari and Cauvery and the source, riparian and estuarine region of all West flowing rivers.
We are lucky to still have some of the very few and very rare 'free flowing rivers' in the country. Most of the rivers in our country have been dammed and diverted. This has changed the ecological and physical characteristics of these rivers completely. Today, it is difficult for us to visualise the amazing range of ecological goods and services that an undammed, free flowing river can provide. Some such rivers in the Western Ghats are Shastri, Aghanashini, Gargai and Seetha Nadi.
Just a glimpse of the eco-services provided by these rivers is astounding. Aghanashini estuary provides livelihoods to 9600 families through bivalave collection alone while river Shastri provides water for drinking, riparian agriculture, and rich estuarine and riverine fisheries, without any dams on its main stem.
At the same time, rivers like Chalakudy, which are already dammed, still have some patches with very rich ecological and cultural significance.
These need to be protected on priority from the onslaught of various projects raiding the Western Ghats. At the same time, when India is third in the world in dam building, with more than 5100 large dams, we also need a complementary policy to protect certain rivers from dams and diversions.
Please find attached a submission to the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel(WGEEP) which puts forth that such biodiversity rich stretches should be protected by declaring them as ecologically sensitive areas.
If you agree to the submission, please send us your name and organisation for inclusion in the submission or just add your comment on this page.
A preliminary submission has been already made to Prof. Gadgil on this issue, by few of us (list mentioned below). However given the larger dimensions of the issue, we hope to submit a copy with more endorsements from groups in the Western Ghats and other regions, to the entire WGEEP before they finalise the report.
Looking forward to your reply at the earliest,
Latha Anantha, River Research Center, Kerala
Vijay Paranjpye, Gomukh Trust, Pune
Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, New Delhi
KJ Joy, SOPPECOM and Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India, Pune
Samir Mehta, International Rivers, South Asia
Shankar Sharma, Teerthhalli, Karnataka
Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune
Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP, India Water Portal and Gomukh Trust, Pune
Download the below attachment to read the submission made to Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP)