Usha Dewani

Usha Dewani
Pest fest on paddy fields
Paddy in Assam saw severe pest attack this year causing large-scale crop damage. Coming soon after repeated floods, this has resulted in huge economic loss to the farmers and the exchequer.
Posted on 02 Nov, 2016 12:01 PM

It is that time of the year when the empty granaries wait for the maturing paddy to fill them. Kati Bihu or Kongali Bihu (Kongal means poor while Kati is the Assamese seventh month where farmers await their harvest) is the most placid of the three Bihus (Assamese agriculture festival) celebrated without much pomp or splendour.

Rice occupies 95 percent of the total food grain production in Assam. The state has about 2.5 million hectares area under rice cultivation with the crop occupying about two-third of the total cropped area in the state.
Of broken pots and dreams
With much of Salmora lost to the insatiable Brahmaputra river, the potters of Majuli stand at a crossroad, uncertain how long they can continue their unique craft.
Posted on 24 Sep, 2016 11:25 PM

Women in Salmora area of Majuli, the world’s largest riverine island and India’s first island district, practise their traditional form of pottery--the one that does not use a wheel but is hand beaten to shape and uses a viscid kind of clay. As the Brahmaputra eats away huge swathes of land year after year, the clay that these potters use is being taken away by the river. 

Forgotten water bearers of Guwahati
Most of the ponds in Guwahati are in a sorry state now. They need to be preserved, not just as heritage sites, but also as drinking water providers and collectors of surface runoff.
Posted on 19 Sep, 2016 06:04 PM

Guwahati, one of the fastest growing cities in India, is thousands of years old. Once known as Pragjyotishpura or the city of eastern light, Guwahati has many ancient stories attached to it. This beautiful city finds mention in epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas.

Jorpukhuri near Ugratara temple.
Children of a lesser God
Underprivileged children are the most affected by Assam’s annual floods. Their schools washed away and health affected, they also fall prey to nefarious activities.
Posted on 09 Aug, 2016 10:32 PM

In what is considered the worst flood in a decade, the flood in Assam this year has swept over 2,800 villages away and submerged more than two lakh hectares of crop. More than 26 lakh people have been affected in 28 out of 34 districts of the state.

Children take refuge in temporary shelters.  (Photo source: Jhai Foundation)
Community effort saves mangroves
When climate change threatens the existence of Sundarbans’ mangroves, villagers get together to plant millions of them to protect the fragile ecosystem.
Posted on 04 Aug, 2016 09:52 AM

Come monsoon, the villages in the Sundarbans islands witness nature’s fury with floodwaters overriding all boundaries and inundating huge tracts of land. As such, the earthen embankments, stretching to 3600 kms on the 54 inhabited islands out of a total of 102 in the Sundarbans, protect scores of people from floods and tidal waves.

Mangroves of Sundarbans. (Source: Nature Environment & Wildlife Society - NEWS)
Kolkata's ponds on shaky ground
About 44 percent of Kolkata city's ponds have disappeared in the last two decades. The importance of preserving these water bodies that serve as a lifeline for people cannot be overemphasised.
Posted on 01 Jun, 2016 09:38 PM

Urban water bodies have an important role in the urban ecology. It is not just a source or water collected somewhere but is an integral part of life--a haven for different types of trees, insects, birds and small animals.

College Square tank or Gol Dighi, one of the very old ponds in Kolkata
Water is more than a job for them
Celebrations for World Water Day 2016 in Nagaon, Assam personify passion by honouring grassroots water-workers for their thankless efforts.
Posted on 21 Mar, 2016 08:39 AM

"A job isn’t just a job. It’s who you are". That quote seems to define the five people who are being honoured for their extraordinary dedication in ensuring water to the people in Nagaon and the newly declared Hojai district of Assam.

Contribution of water sector workers at the grassroots level goes unrecognised very often
Bundelkhand women forge friendships for water
Women are not only responsible for water but they also face the brunt of water scarcity. Watch the video to find out what happens when these women become 'Jal Sahelis' (water friends). Posted on 07 Mar, 2016 03:09 PM

Sirkoo, a 39 year old woman in Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh, walked 8 km every day to fetch water. As a woman, it was obviously her responsibility to ensure the household's water availability. This put an additional stress on her already depleted health as well as time--until she decided to tackle the issue head on.

Water Literacy campaign for Jal Sahelis (Source: Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan)
The Last Builder of Naulas in Chatola, Nainital
Constructing naulas, the small structures that house springs in Uttarakhand, requires an intimate knowledge of many sciences. One of the last practitioners of this dying craft tells his story. Posted on 03 Jan, 2016 05:57 PM

No temple is as venerated in Uttarakhand as the little unassuming naulas. These small hut-like structures dot the mountains and hold within them a great treasure--water. Usually made of stone masonry with pyramid-like slate roofs, every naula respresents within it a residing spirit which can range from a simple stone piece to an ornately carved statue.

Ratan Singh Bisht is one of the few people today who constructs naulas
Arid, but water secure in Kutch
Reduced migration, better hygiene practices and access to information on govt. schemes were only some of the achievements of villages in Rapar, Gujarat. The videos tell the full story. Posted on 16 Feb, 2015 11:34 PM

For many in Rapar taluka of Kutch, migration was a way of life due to the absence of rainfall; they went in search of greener pastures. But when the people realised their collective potential and how they could use it to resolve water scarcity in their villages, there was no stopping them ,and the compulsion to migrate reduced.

Rearing livestock: the mainstay of people in Rapar