India’s Dammed Rivers Suffer Fisheries Collapse

Monday, December 3, 2012
It may surprise many that India is second in the world in freshwater fish production. More than 75% of fisherfolk in India depend on freshwater fisheries for their livelihoods. Though there is no systematic assessment of livelihood dependence on rivers, nearly 11 million Indians depend on rivers for their livelihoods and nutrition.

WRR Commentary: A Shining Light

Thursday, August 23, 2012
Commentary: September 2012 World Rivers ReviewAs I write this, the failure of India’s electricity grid has created what surely must be the world’s largest blackout. The New York Times reported that over 600 million people live in the impacted area. In case anyone is feeling numb to the number of zeros in that figure, the Times points out that we are talking about roughly 10% of humanity affected by the outage. This news is being spun in a number of ways, for a range of motives. Was an operator asleep in the control room? Is India’s electricity demand outstripping its generation capac

Hydro Electric Projects on River Ganga

A map showing dozens of hydroelectric projects planned for the River Ganga/Ganges River from the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP).

Brahmaputra/Yarlung Tsangpo

The Brahmaputra River is one of the last largely free-flowing rivers emanating from the Tibetan Plateau. The Zangmu Hydropower Station, the first of a series of five dams planned, is on the main stream of the middle reaches of Brahmaputra. Huaneng, China's top power company, is backing the financing of the project and, Gezhouba, one of China's biggest dam construction companies, will build the project. Those living downstream, including India and Bangladesh, will likely be greatly impacted.

Trans-boundary River Basins in South Asia: Options for Conflict Resolution

Transboundary rivers - here the flooding Kosi - are a soruce of conflict or cooperation
Transboundary rivers - here the flooding Kosi - are a soruce of conflict or cooperation South Asian trans-boundary issues are inextricably linked to regional geopolitics since the main trans-national river systems are circum-Himalayan and involve countries that are unequal in size and power and have been involved in wars in the last six decades. The main river systems, the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra are all connected to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China. The Indus basin connects China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, while the Brahmaputra and the Ganga connect China, Bh

Saving the World’s Rivers: What Must Be Done?

Biodiversity the world over is threatened by changes to rivers. These Great One-horned Rhinoceroses live in India's Kaziranga National Park, which is threatened by dams planned in the Brahmaputra River Basin.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
From December 2011 World Rivers ReviewFlying across any continent today confirms that the world’s rivers are dominant features in the landscape, and are places where humans and animals gather to reap the many benefits and services they provide. Rivers of all sizes all over the world have underpinned the process of human development. As we progress into the twenty-first century, this development process must now be reassessed. Across the world, we have mismanaged and in some places almost destroyed the core ecological fabric on which river health – and indeed our own survival – depend

The Pioneers of our Climate, Water and Food Security

Bottom-up approaches conserve water and strengthen climate resilience in agriculture
Bottom-up approaches conserve water and strengthen climate resilience in agriculture CIIFAD Cornell When the World Commission on Dams reviewed the development effectiveness of dams, multipurpose projects with large dams, power plants and irrigation schemes had the worst social, environmental and economic track record. As the world is grappling for appropriate answers to climate change, influential actors such as the World Bank want to give these complex schemes a second chance. They are wrong. While we need to integrate the concerns of climate change, water, energy and food security, we don

Where Rivers Run Free

Patagonia’s free-flowing Baker River is under threat by dams.
Policy Tools to Protect Free-Flowing RiversPatagonia’s free-flowing Baker River is under threat by dams. © Jorge Uzon ree-flowing rivers have become so rare that they would be classified as an endangered species if they were considered living things rather than merely support systems for all living things. In the past half-century or more, the world has seen the number of undammed rivers shrink dramatically. In ecological and cultural terms, the value of these free-flowing rivers is immense and growing, as more and more rivers are being dammed the world over. What have we lost in the rush

Scientist's Hunger Strike Halts Work on Himalayan Dam

This blog post appeared on in March 2009. The near-death of one of India’s most distinguished scientists has halted work on a major hydroelectric dam in the Himalayas. Professor AD Agarwal, 77, former dean of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi at Kanpur, has been on hunger strike for 38 days in protest against a project that would dam the waters of a Ganges tributary. "The water ... is not ordinary water to a Hindu. It is a matter of the life and death of Hindu faith," Agarwal said, before beginning his fast in January. This is his second fast in th

The Himalayas

Our warming climate is changing the Himalayas faster than any other region of the world. The mountains’ mighty glaciers, the source of most large Asian rivers, are melting. Against these dramatic changes, the governments of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan are planning to transform the Himalayan rivers into the powerhouse of South Asia. They want to build hundreds of mega-dams to generate electricity from the wild waters of the Himalayas.


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