Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Editorial "Damming The Ganges" of 15 June 2008 issue of LAW ANIMATED WORLD

could be quite dangerous to the fragile ecosystems of the Himalayan region with calamitous consequences for the people in the Indo-Gangetic plain. No doubt there may be some immediate benefits like cheap hydro-electric power and irrigation facilities to hitherto unreachable areas but the cons unfortunately outweigh the pros in this regard. There was stout opposition to and intense agitation against the construction of the Tehri Dam earlier with the controversy even carried to the Supreme Court through PILs when finally that Court took the regretful decision to give it a green signal and put the matters to rest for the timebeing. But it seems the governments at the helm are not satisfied with the damage already inflicted but want to dam the river near its very origin – Gangotri. Prof. G.D. Agarwal, former Dean, IIT Kanpur, has taken lead now for a spirited fight against this move and has begun his protest fast-unto-death from 13 June. His reasoning is that the damming would lead to the drying up of the lower reaches of Gangaji, which offends not only the sentiments of crores of Hindus who worship the river as a mother goddess but also starts a process of desertification of considerable portions of the Gangetic plain in the near future. The vast water reservoirs created by such damming are hotbeds for tectonic quakes. The entire Himalayan region is a relatively recent geographical formation in creational timescale and it could not endure such human tampering for long. Already in this journal we had earlier discussed the pros and cons of big dams and the enlightening report of the World Dams Commission and all wisdom dictates restraint in this matter. Let the Governments not rush through such potentially disastrous dams but concentrate on less risky medium and minor irrigation works and development of alternative energy sources §§§

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