Skip to main content

Pristine rivers before they merge into Ganga suggest pollution crisis is totally manmade

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

After completing my journey of Ganga and Yamuna rivers in the Himalayas, I undertook a journey to see the beauty of river Kali which is known as Mahakali in Nepal and is known as Sarda after Purnagiri hills near Tanakpur in Uttarakhand. We started from Tawaghat, about 30 kilometres from Dharchula town in Pithoragarh district. 
While we wanted to go up to Adi Kailash,  due to heavy rains and landslide it was not possible. So, at Tawaghat, Darma river or Dhauli Ganga (not the same that merges with Alaknanda at Vishnu Prayag) flows into Kali river. Tawaghat was an important market on the way to Kaliash Mansarovar, but the 2013 floods destroyed the entire market and there is not a small trace of it now.
At Dharchula, you can see a city divided by two national identities, India and Nepal, but the culture and civilisation unite them. It shows how culture is a powerful uniting factor. Kali or Mahakali is actually the borderline between India and Nepal in the Uttarakhand region. 
30 kilometers down, Kali meets another river coming from Milam glacier known as Gori Ganga. Some call it Gauri Ganga at Joljibi, which is a historic town for business between India and Nepal. From Joljibi we went to Askot, a beautiful historical town where the Pal dynasty of  Uttarakhand flourished once. A beautiful temple of Mallikarjun Mahadev is at the top which can provide you a glimpse of beautiful peaks of Panchachuli Himalayan range as well as the Kali valley.
From Joljibi the river  move towards Jhulaghat, another important town between India and Nepal. Just ahead of Jhulaghat, about five kilometres, river Chamelia  coming from Nepal flows into Kali. From Jhulaghat the river moves to Pancheshwar where Saryu river flows into Kali, and after some kilometres, the journey of the same river is known as Sarda from Purnagiri hills, just a few kilometres before Tanakpur barrage.
At the border town of Banbasa (bordering with the Mahendranagar district of Nepal), the river passes through some forest zones and reaches Pilibhit and Lakimpurkhiri but from Khatima. A parallel Sarda Canal passes through the beautiful Surai forests followed by Pilibhit Tiger Range. At the border of Sitapur-Lakhimpurkhiri-Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh, Sarda river finally ends its journey by merging into river Ghaghra.
Ghaghra river’s origin too is from the Mansarovar range. It takes a down turn to the beautiful region of Nepal, and is known as Karnali. It passes through the mesmerising landscape near Pitmari and Cheesapani in Nepal and splits into two rivers before entering into India, namely Girua and Kudiyala. Both these rivers pass through dense forests of Kataraniyaghat Tiger range in Bahraich and meets at Girijapuri, where a barrage is made over them, and the river afterwards is called Ghaghra. From there the river passes through Bahraich, Sitapur, and Gonda, and is known as Saryu at Ayodhya, and it moves towards Basi, Azamagarh and finally enters Bihar via Siwan and  merges into river Ganga at a place near Chirand and Revelanj in district Saran. Son river coming from Amarkantak and Kaimur hills too meets Ganga at this point known as Teen Dhara, about 10 kilometres river journey from Chirand.
Heavy sand mining has destroyed the river system. You cannot stand for a minute as the air has thick layers of sand and dust. Every year Ghaghra and Sarda cause huge devastation, change their embankment and millions of hectare of fertile land  turns barren. While in Uttarakhand dams, constructions etc. have made a challenge and we may not see many of these locations which we have shown in my video, I deliberately did not mention anything of that because I want people to understand the crisis is totally manmade. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the disaster is being caused by mining as well as rituals when people take a dip in the rivers and wash their sins in there without bothering as to what will happen tomorrow.
We need a people’s conscious decision not to pollute our rivers. At the policy level the government needs to think as to what needs to be done. There is a limit to their commercial usage. Our rivers are our identity and we need to see whether we want to protect our rivers, our heritage and cultural identities or just put them for commercial usage. How long will this commercial exploitation be allowed? What is the limit to exploitation? Of course, these are not parts of the video, which is just a narration of a journey and the conclusions should be drawn by  people themselves. 
*Human rights defender 



Lip-service on World Environment Day vs 'watered-down' eco-safeguards

By Shankar Sharma*  Just a few days ago, the world remembered the routinely forgotten global environment on the occasion of World Environment Day, briefly though, maybe just for the day. There were reports of a few high profile ceremonies in different parts of the country, including a few in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly asked the people of our country to plant one tree per each person as a mark of respect/ gratitude for our mothers.

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

Pellet gun fire severely injures Dalit worker off Bangladesh border

By Kirity Roy*  This is regarding an incident of firing pellets by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel attached with Panchadoji Border Outpost of ‘E’ Company of 90 BSF Battalion on a Schedule Caste youth of village Parmananda under Dinhata Police Station of Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. The victim was severely injured and one portion of his face became disfigured due to pellet firing by the BSF.

Moving towards sustainable development? Social, environmental implications of HCES data

By Dr Vandana Sehgal, Dr Amandeep Kaur*  Sustainable development, the high time agenda, encompasses economic, social, and environmental dimensions, aiming for a balance between all these aspects to ensure long-term well-being and prosperity for all. One of the crucial aspects of sustainable development is consumption patterns. Consumption patterns refer to the way individuals, households, and societies use resources and goods. Sustainable consumption patterns entail using resources efficiently, minimizing waste, and considering the environmental and social impacts of consumption choices.

Sanction to persecute Arundhati Roy under UAPA politically motivated: PUCL

Counterview Network  Top human rights group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, has demanded that the authorities should immediately withdraw the prosecution against top author Arundhati Roy and Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a Kashmir academic, under the " unconstitutional"  Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act  (UAPA), calling the Delhi  Lieutenant-Governor nod for the Delhi police move "politically motivated".

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.