Supin, a tributary of river Tons and a part of river Yamuna gushes through the hilly tracts of Uttarkashi district. Like all rivers meandering through the lush terrains and forests of Uttarakhand, Supin too is being aggressively tapped for hydropower generation by the government.
“The gravity of the Kedarnath disaster in June 2013, which killed thousands of people, shocked the public almost to the point of numbness”... begins the forward by Bill Aitken in Hridayesh Joshi’s account of the disaster Rage of the river: The untold story of the Kedarnath disaster. It’s a sentence which will whirl in your mind while you read Joshi’s book.
Gharats are water-powered grinding mills found in Himalayan villages. Though these are owned and managed by individuals, they are considered to be the common property of the entire village.
Jagatguru Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand and Swami Ramdev offer support to Dr. G.D. Agrawal on his fast unto deathposted 11 years 6 months ago
Jagatguru Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand of Dwarkapeeth sent his personal emissary Swami Dharanand to convey his support to Dr. G.D. Agrawal whose third fast-unto-death to ensure the natural flow in river Bhagirathi (Ganga) from Gangotri to Uttarkashi entered its second day. Yesterday (July 21) Swami Ramdev spent an hour in the evening with Dr. Agrawal and offered his full support.
It is with great disappointment that Raksha Sutra and Uttarakhand Nadi Bachao Andolan received the news from the report in Amar Ujala, Dehradun 27.02.09 that the Uttarakhand High Court has granted a stay to the Central Government Order suspending the work on the Loharinag , Pala (600 MW) hydroelectric project. The work on the project has begun with hardly a break in its stride. The Public Interest Petition filed by Rural Litigation and Entitlement Centre, a Dehradun based NGO filed for a stay stating that neither would the natural flow of the river be affected nor is the project causing any environmental damage is a total falsehood. The petitioners have deliberately misled the High Court. They have not visited the site for themselves and have filed for a stay from the sanitised environment of Dehradun. We who live and work in Uttarkashi know the truth. This is not the first instance that this NGO has taken legal action to restart projects that have been stopped because of their dubious benefits. It is quite clear that unlike its name this NGO is working not for rural entitlement but rather for the entitlement of vested interests. This is very saddening. The environmental impact of the project is enormous. Entire mountainsides have been scarred and shorn of their green cover. Thousands of tonnes of excavated rock from the tunnel construction have been dumped on the riverside and threaten to block the flow of the river with the onset of monsoon. The dust being churned day and night by the hundreds of dumpers and trucks operating on the project is choking all life on both sides of the river. Fields that were the mainstay of the primarily agricultural community are lying barren because no growth has taken place for the last 3 years despite the best efforts of the farmers. Pastures which sustained the livestock of the village people have been devastated. Representations by the people to the government and NTPC have yielded no satisfactory results. We have photographic and video evidence of this.
Images of a dying river, handwritten Press releases & more: Images of a Struggle on Flickr Charging the Government of India with not keeping its solemn commitment to keep the River Bhagirathi alive in its pristine stretch from Gangotri to Uttarkashi, Dr. G.D. Agrawal has resumed his fast-unto-death from Makar Sankranti Day, Wednesday, Jan 14, 2009.
You may recall that Prof. G. D Agrawal, former Professor & Dean of Students at IIT-Kanpur, the first Member-Secretary of India's Central PollutionControl Board and one of India's foremost environmental scientists went on a fast from June 13, 2008 to seek uninterrupted flow of River Bhagirathi (Ganga) in its natural form between Gangotri and Uttarkashi. His demand was very limited & specific, i.e., that the River Ganga be allowed to flow in its natural form in this 125 km stretch from its origin. This is the only stretch left now where the Ganga can still be seen in its pristine form. Dr. Agrawal requested the Govt. of India & the State Govt. of Uttarakhand to stop construction of Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs) in this stretch so that river flow was not diverted through tunnels that would destroy its ecology and its unique self-purifying properties. (diagrams are provided in the attached press release). Indians across the world got sensitized and lent their support to Prof Agrawal. Many wrote or met the PM of India and the CM of Uttarakhand and requested them to protect the Holy Ganga , whom Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru described as India's civilizational identity.
All is not well with the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) constituted on an order of the Government of India to determine the flow required to keep the Bhagirathi river 'alive and to ensure perennial environmental flow in the river'. It may be recalled that on June 30, 2008 the Government of India committed itself to "suitably ensure perennial environmental flow in all stretches of river Bhagirathi."This commitment was made in response to a representation of the Alumini Association of IIT- Kanpur to the Prime Minister of India requesting his intervention in the fast-unto-death undertaken by Dr. G.D. Agrawal , a former Dean of IIT-Kanpur -- to ensure the natural and uninterrupted flow of the Bhagirathi river between Gangotri and Dharasu (Uttarkashi). Subsequently the Ministry of Power, GoI, directed Shri R.S. Sharma, Chairman & Managing Director of NTPC, to constitute a high level expert group. The biggest problem with the HLEG is that it lacks the necessary scientific expertise to comprehensively address the issue. In a letter to Shri R.S. Sharma, rejecting his invitation to be a member of the HLEG, Dr G.D. Agrawal wrote, "Several members of the HLEG as constituted (including its Chairman) fall extremely short on any sort of expertise on river ecology and environmental flows...The commitment of most proposed members towards conservation of Bhagirathi Gangaji as the mother of India's faith, unity and culture is also questionable and I cannot afford to provide credibility to its deliberations and conclusions by being an ordinary member of the group."
Pained by the unrelenting destruction of the Ganga river, especially by a series of dams in its upper reaches, Dr G.D. Agrawal, India's pre-eminent environmental quality scientist and a legendary Professor (and HoD) of Civil & Environmental Engineering at IIT-Kanpur. (Access:Biography Sketch Here) has decided to go on a fast-unto-death to oppose its continuing desecration. His conviction that we are staring at an unprecedented ecological and cultural catastrophe comes from his powerfully logical mind. Critique on proposed dams on Bhagirathi River. Access here: Critique on Dams