30 July, 2021

Bastions Of Unreason | By Feroze Varun Gandhi

Education, labour, healthcare, credit...A Rural Manifesto ponders over all these. In this extract, it focuses on the human and ecological costs of those vaunted ‘temples’—dams.

Photograph by Getty Images
Bastions Of Unreason | By Feroze Varun Gandhi

India is gifted with a bouquet of 20 perennial and non-perennial river systems, with several tributaries. Our rivers, mostly originating from the Himalayas, the Chhotanagpur Plateau and the Western Ghats,  receive a significant run-off, from glaciers and precipitation, accumulating an average annual flow of 1,953km3, while replenishing groundwater resources of around 432km3. This enables the formation of a perennial utilisable water resource, one expressed in surface water (690km3) and ground water (396km3). In particular, Himalayan snow and ice melt off­ers a significant boon, with water yield in such river basins nearly double that of the peninsular rivers. Groundwater, wherever available, remains a significant source of water, particularly for domestic consumption, contributing 80 per cent of the household requirement and over half of the irrigation requirement.

India’s rivers undergo a series of changes across their route and through seasons—turning into a slack pool during winter; raging as torrents during the monsoon, awing us with its...

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