Parineeta Dandekar

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Help save some of the last rivers in India!


Dear friends,

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.

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Of all the positive elements and assets, the most important ally of our environment is the future generation.


Above - Children studying a map of the Chalakudy Basin. Photo - RRC.

Seeds of sustainability and sensitivity when sown at a young age, blossom into responsible individuals. And you need to be in touch with the land to sow those seeds. The Central and State Boards of Education in India have made Environmental Science a compulsory subject for schools and junior colleges (for all subjects). But Environmental Sciences is not to be studied in the classroom. In order to understand the erosion and deposition processes of a river, students need to visit a river bend in their city and in order to instil a lifelong aversion to plastic bags, a landfill and dumping grounds need to be seen.

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Native freshwater fish in India are declining rapidly, due to destruction of habitats through hydrological modifications, pollution and unsustainable fishing practices.



Temple Fish Sanctuaries: Last bastions of native fish and pristine river stretches

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Firstly, the definition of the Wetlands in the rules does not include Rivers and floodplains which are included under wetlands under the Ramsar convention on Wetlands that India is signatory to.

SANDRPOn the occasion of the World Wetlands Day 2011, while we welcome the notification of Wetland (Conservation and Management) rules 2010 by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on Dec 2, 2010, we would like to bring to the attention of the Minister and the Ministry that the rules suffer from some basic flaws, due

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His new book “Economics of River Flows” takes us through different case studies in the United States.

In his last book, 'Economics of hydropower' Dr. jhunjhunwala comes to a conclusion that we have neglected some very important costs of hydropower, while overestimating its benefit. Along with significant economic, social and ecological impacts of dams, he has also surveyed pilgrims and devotees at Dev Prayag, Rishikesh and Haridwar and, using methodologies from environmental economics, has tried to assess the huge spiritual value of rivers.

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The benefits from generation of electricity are grossly overstated while the costs of generation are understated.

Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala, past faculty at IIM, Bangalore, holds a doctorate in Economics.  He has been working persistently on economic impacts of hydropower dams, applying the concepts of environmental economics to arrive at some interesting results.

His latest book, ‘Economics of River Flows: Lessons from Dam Removals from America’ analyses dam decommissioning examples from the United States and raises some pertinent questions about costs benefit analysis of dams in India. His earlier book, ‘Economics of Hydropower’ raised questions about economic efficiency, viability and sustainability of Hydropower Dams in India.

Parineeta Dandekar, IWP, talks with him on some of these issues.

Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala can be contacted at: bharatjj@gmail.com

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River systems need to be recognised at ecosystem,everything is all bound by it and we should stop trying to divide them along man-made landscapes, and least of all let it divide us.

Dr. Brij Gopal, Vice President, National Institute of Ecology and former Member, Working Group on Minimum Flows, constituted by the Water Quality Assessment Authority, talks to Parineeta Dandekar, India Water Portal about the urgent need of freshwater flows in Indian rivers, and the legal and institutional set ups required to ensure this.

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Most of the rivers and streams in urban India are dead. Race to urbanisation has cost us these once-beautiful water bodies. One story from many - Pune's Dev Nadi

Most of the rivers and streams in urban India are dead. With a very few and rare exceptions, these once-beautiful water bodies have been encroached upon, sources dried up or converted into sewage drains all over the country.Water is being sourced or pumped from sites upstream of the city for its needs or from long distances and the city administration has little incentive for cleaning its own muck. The dismal figures of urban sewage treated by sewage treatment plants, their installed capacity and efficiency stand testimony to this.

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Nallahs and rainwater is good news. Not for Pune. 10 people lose their lives while the city administration neglects the maintenance of the near-natural channel system Pune enjoys.

Guest post by Parineeta Dandekar


While this news item was about to be published, Pune received heavy rains on the 4th of October (highest in the last 118 years, 104 mm in 40 minutes and 181.3 mm in 24 hours). While the city administration stressed that this was a cloud burst, this claim was quashed by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). This was said to a rare event, which was experienced in many places in Maharashtra.

10 people lost their lives to these rains, including three young children and a 25 year old Ph D researcher, Agnimitra Bannerjee, from National Chemical Laboratory, who was washed away in a channelised nallah stretch. Channels prove to be much more dangerous as the velocity of water is high and there is nothing to hold on to, in case a person falls in one of these fast-flowing nallah channels.

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