Damming a Global Heritage

Jagatsukh village, India
Jagatsukh village, India Michelle Arevalo, IAP Until recently life in Jagatsukh, a village nestled in the Beas Valley among Himalayan peaks, followed its traditional course. Apple plantations and local tourism brought modest prosperity to many inhabitants. The irrigation channels were well maintained, and the sturdy houses withstood the region’s harsh climate. When we visited, the local farmers were happy to share their stories over glasses of hot chai with us. Jagatsukh’s culture and economic development are now being sacrificed for the glitzy middle class consumption which is on disp

Indians Protest to Stop Dams on Mother Ganga

Marchers for the Ganga visited 150 villages in 14 river valleys. Here, Alaknanda river valley walkers approach Srinagar.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
March 2008 World Rivers Review For 15 days in January, hundreds of men, women and children marched across river valleys of India's Uttarakhand state to raise awareness about government plans to build dams. The government intends to build 220 large, medium and small dams in the upper reaches of the Ganges River basin, the country's holiest of rivers. Organizers say the scheme will transform the sacred Ganges into a plumbing system with all of the life engineered out of it. "Our lakes and rivers, even the sacred Ganga, are in a rapidly deteriorating state. Our lives, work and cultures are t

Water for All

Poor water access particularly affects women and girls
Poor water access particularly affects women and girls Photo: JA! Inequitable access to water, especially for growing crops, is a major factor in global poverty, and a death sentence for millions each year. Ending this unacceptable situation will require a radically new approach to investing in water infrastructure. The major engineering works that dominated 20th century water management has been discounted for its technical and economic failures, for benefiting the well-off at the expense of the poor, and for its massively negative impacts on ecosystems. Water mismanagement contributes towar

Alternatives to Large Dams in India: Easy and Cheap Options

Rainwater harvesting has improved harvests for this Indian family.
Rainwater harvesting has improved harvests for this Indian family. Credit: Patrick McCully The bulk of the aid and investment money for water and energy development in India is spent on building large new generating plants and industrial-scale irrigation projects. This generally does nothing to improve poor people’s access to modern energy services, safe water and basic sanitation. It is also not the most sustainable or affordable way to address the growing demand for electricity and water services in the country. The construction of more large generating plants to feed the centralized gri


Boats on a river in Bangladesh.
The Kaptai Dam, inaugurated in the early 1960s, was the first large dam built in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) and is still the only large hydropower project in the country. No resettlement was provided for the 100,000 indigenous people from the Chakma and Hajong tribes who lost their lands and homes. Local communities and civil society groups now fight for compensation for the displaced, as well as against plans to extend the Kaptai Dam and its reservoir, which would lead to the loss of even more biodiversity-rich land.


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