Interlinking of Rivers

Paper presented at Coimbatore Institute of Technology

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 17, 2006

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There is a thought provoking article on riverlinking by Atma Bharati at the following link. It is worth spending time to read it.


E-Governance for Conservation

Pedal-powered computing initiative

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 08, 2006

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This article appeared in

The article details an initiative launched in February 2003 in Phon Kham, a village in the jungles of northern Laos: a human-powered computer called the Jhai Computer (Jhai means hearts and minds working together in Laotian).

 A villager on a stationary bicycle will make it possible for the village to connect to the Internet via wireless remote. The idea is to provide communication, because every day they sell their ducks, rice, weaving and chickens, and sell for less money than they should because they can't know the real price down in the towns.

Organisers claim that this project is unique in that it relies on simple materials like foot pedals and wireless antennas rather than high-tech devices (or even electricity). All 200 residents of Phon Kham live in bamboo houses with thatch roofs, none of which have electricity or telephone access.

Laos is the 10th-poorest country worldwide. The bike-pedaled generator will power a battery that in turn runs the computer, which sits in an 8-by-10-inch box. The computer will run on only 12 watts (compared to a typical computer's 90 watts). A wireless card (an 802.11b, the current industry standard) will be hooked up to an antenna bolted on the roof of a bamboo house; the signal will be beamed from there to an antenna nailed to a tree on top of a mountain. The signal will be bounced to Phon Hong, which sits 25 miles from Phon Kham and is the nearest big village with phone lines. The phone lines then hook to an Internet service provider. The Jhai runs on Linux software.

 A Laotian IBM engineer in New York to customised the software to the Lao language. The Internet connection will enable the Jhai Computer to be used not only for e-mail, but also as a two-way telephone system (through Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP). It has no moving parts, the lid seals up tight, and you can dunk it in water and it will still run...

The idea is to be rugged, last at least 10 years and run in both the monsoon season and the dry season.

E-Governance for Conservation

IT for Social Change

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 08, 2006

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‘IT for Social Change’ (IT4SC), a network idea by Anil Shaligram who used to run a DTP centre in Maharashtra, is being implemented by him in the State.

His strategy is to conduct community IT literacy campaigns, set up IT Centers in localities. Through village network he plans to collect basic relevant data and contents on various issues, computerize these and use it for analysis, dissemination and broadcasting.

The first Social Process Software that uses these data for analysis and resolution of community problems has been developed called Domestic Women Workers’ Software Tool and it is being used by domestic worker's unions. In addition to employment issues and domestic women workers from cities and towns, they have also taken up the issues of sanitation and water conservation in villages, public distribution system, public health, poverty related issues, destitute people's pensions the next software application.

Anil also writes about how the grass root movement is being led by youth. In Beed District youth lead IT driven rainwater harvesting and water management. In Parbhani they use IT to guarantee employment to communities. In New Mumbai, they are exercising right to information and communication using internet to win a participation in developmental process. In Satara, IT has become integral part of their education and cultural activism.

 Anil envisages that the concept of IT for Social Change (IT4SC) will become a major Social Sectoral concept and 21st century is going to be a Networking Society and Knowledge Society. This IT enabled community based concept is going to play a major role in the formation and constitution of that society. It can also be a CONVERGING SOCIETY in which organizational solutions like IT4SC will emerge by which backward communities can catch up with the advanced communities by using advance knowledge and technologies to usher into an egalitarian world community.

Anil can be contacted at

Interlinking of Rivers

Peninsular Component

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 06, 2006

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  1. Mahanadi-Godavari
  2. Godavari-Krishna ( 3 sites)
  3.  Krishna-Pennar ( 3 sites)
  4.  Pennar-Cauvery
  5.  Cauvery-Vagai-Gundar
  6.  Ken-Betwa
  7.  Parbati-Kalisindh-Chambal
  8.  Par-Tapi-Narmada
  9.  Damanganga-Pinjal
  10.  Bedti-Varda
  11.  Netravati-Hemavati
  12.  Pamba-Achankovil-Vaippar

(Source-The Hindu)

Interlinking of Rivers

Himalayan component

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 06, 2006

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  1. Brahmputra-Ganga
  2. Kosi-Ghagra
  3. Gandak-Ganga
  4.  Ghagra-Yamuna
  5.  Sarda-Yamuna
  6.  Yamuna-Rajasthan
  7.  Rajasthan-Sabarmati
  8.  Chunar-Sone Barrage
  9.  Sone Dam-Southern tributaries of Ganga
  10.  Brahmaputra-Ganga
  11.  Kosi-Mechi
  12.  Farakka-Sunderbans
  13.  Ganga-Damodar-Subernrekha
  14.  Subernrekha-Mahanadi

( Source-The Hindu)


Bio Diversity of Uttaranchal

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 01, 2006

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The renowned biologist A.J.T Johnsingh suggests that the forests of Uttaranchal can easily support about 1000 elephants and 200 tigers as long as this large habitat, now fragmented in three blocks is managed and protected as one continuous habitat for wildlife.

We have uploaded his report " A Road Map for Conservation in Uttaranchal" at the following link

Since this is a pdf file, downloading will take some time. But I can assure you it is well worth the wait. Mr. Johnsingh is an academic who is well versed with grassroot level realities and I have heard him passionately pleading the cause of conservation - repeatedly stressing the need for field level awareness before taking up conservation issues.

Any other

Man Elephant Conflict

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 01, 2006

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Ankur Chaturvedi's article on human elephant conflict has been published at the following link


Please read and post your comments in the blog.

Interlinking of Rivers

A new study says that river-linking will affect monsoons in the country

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 12, 2006

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This warning was issued in an article published in the January 10, 2006 issue of the journal, Current Science. The report, an outcome of a one-day meeting of scientists from a few premier research institutes of the country, suggests that the reduced runoff from some rivers targeted by interlinking — a sure consequence of the project — could adversely affect the amount, duration and spatial distribution of monsoon rainfall received by most regions in India.

Unlike other oceans, the Bay of Bengal maintains a low-salinity layer whose thickness varies between 10 and 20 metres during different periods of the year. This low-salinity region, spread over a third of the Bay of Bengal, owes itself to the runoff from some of the rivers targeted by the interlinking project, and plays a critical role in sustaining monsoon rainfall in major parts of the country. The region is a prime reason for India receiving nearly 4 per cent of the global precipitation, even though it occupies only 2.45 per cent of the earth’s terrestrial surface. India receives about 70 per cent of its annual precipitation from the summer monsoon.

Interlinking will upset this If the proposal takes effect, humongous amounts of water from the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Mahanadi river systems, that today flow into the Bay of Bengal, will be redirected to the water scarce regions in southern and western parts of the country. Scientists, however, feel that the government has ignored larger questions while pushing the project.

“The project should have been taken up only after carrying out a rigorous scientific study, employing proper modelling and simulation experiments,” says V Rajamani, professor of geology at the New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University one of the authors of the Current Science report. On Rajamani’s insistence, the Bangalore-based Indian Academy of Sciences organised the meet, which led to the Current Science article.

The participants included U C Mohanty of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, R Ramesh of Ahmedabad-based Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Prasanna Kumar of National Institute of Oceanography, R K Kolli of Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, and G S Bhat and other scientists of the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore (IISC). Also present was another scientist from the iisc, P N Vinayachandran who, in 2002, had collaborated with two scientists of the National Institute of Oceanography in Journal of Geophysical Research article, which showed for the first time that freshwater inputs from river runoff are critical to the Bay of Bengal’s low-salinity layer.

The meeting deliberated upon the existing knowledge on the Bay of Bengal and its land-atmosphere linkages. The participants noted, “The estimated freshwater influxes into the Bay of Bengal from local precipitation and through river discharge are 4,700 and 3,000 billion cubic metre (bcm) per year respectively. The Bay loses only 3600 bcm per year. Thus, its annual freshwater input far exceeds the loss due to evaporation. This makes the Bay relatively less saline compared to other oceans.” Says Rajamani, this also helps the ocean maintain its low salinity area, and in turn influence the monsoon rainfall in most parts of the country. How? The density of seawater increases with salinity. The Bay of Bengal’s low-salinity zone is therefore a layer of less dense water that floats above denser waters below. Scientifically referred to as stratified layering, the phenomenon prevents mixing of surface water and the cooler waters below. Solar energy gets trapped in the top 10-20 metre-thick non-saline layer, keeping the sea surface temperature (sst) higher than other oceans. This is critical for rainfall.

According to meteorologists, low pressure formation that causes monsoon begins at 28° c but peaks at 29° C. But while other oceans, including the Arabian Sea, take almost a month to increase their sst by 1° c, the corresponding time required by the Bay of Bengal is just 4 to 5 days. Its warmer low-salinity zone enables the Bay of Bengal to effect this temperature change, faster. This is very significant, considering that even small changes in the sst influence rainfall. “This relation between the low-salinity layer in the Bay of Bengal and the monsoon rainfall was established scientifically during Bay of Bengal Monsoon Experiment in 1999,” says Vinayachandran.

More evidence Scientists also say that global circulation model studies have shown that its low-salinity zone also helps the Bay of Bengal retain freshwater from the river discharge closer to the coastal region during the monsoon period. And, then around the beginning October every year, when the monsoon withdraws, this water flows along the coast of India and around Sri Lanka into the southeastern Arabian Sea; here it plays a vital role in warming of the Arabian Sea during the pre-monsoon months. “This clearly shows that the effects of the rivers that originate in the Himalayas are not just local, but spread out over a large area on an annual scale,” the Current Science article observes.

Other impacts Says R Ramesh, a biological oceanographer with prl, the disappearance of the low-salinity region can lead to an increase in marine phytoplankton population. Currently this layer prevents vertical mixing of water between the rivers dense and rare zone, and this in turn inhibits supply of nutrients from below, restricting phytoplankton growth. The Bay of Bengal does have an abundance of phytoplankton, but the productivity of these creatures is only one-fourth of that found in the Arabian Sea. Increased phytoplankton population might lead to a growth in the Bay’s population. Scientists fear that this fecundity would work to the ocean’s detriment. Rains at bay The planktons will take away lots of oxygen from the Bay and will lead to the development of the oxygen minimum zone, just as in the Arabian Sea. Oxygen dependent bacteria would be replaced by nitorgen dependent ones, causing denitrification — the release of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere. Nitrogen oxide is 20 times more potent greenhouse gas. Scientists have other worries. Says Rajamani, the country’s coastal ecology will be completely altered after the construction of more than 250 mega dams envisaged by the river linking project.

“In normal course, nature maintains equilibrium by constantly replenishing delta regions with sediments to offset those taken away by the sea or lost due to subduction. But the dams will reduce or even stop the supply of sediments from rivers and this in turn will accelerate sea erosion in the deltas,” he apprehends. The sea erosion triggered by dams was best documented by a team of researchers in the Andhra University, Visakhapatanam in a 2004 Current Science paper (See “Sea change”, Down To Earth, December 15, 2004). The scientists led by Kakani Nageswara Rao of the geo-engineering department of the university found the fertile delta region lost 18 sq km between 1976-2001 as a series of dams built on the river Godavari river and its tributaries blocked sediment flow.

Rajamani and other contributors to the Current Science article have called for more research to assess the impacts of river linking. The potential consequences of the project inferred in the report are based on existing knowledge on the Bay of Bengal. “There is a definite need to create more credible datasets on land, ocean and atmosphere so that simulation models can be prepared,” they argue. This will help establish the relation between the runoff input to the Bay of Bengal and the monsoons. more accurately. Significantly, currently no official data is available on how much water or at what rate water from these rivers will be diverted as part of the river linking project.

E-Governance for Conservation

Participation of villagers in shifting due to dam construction

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 26, 2006

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“Participatory Rule Appraisal” (PRA) appears to be paying dividends to the West Godavari district administration in  implementing the relief and rehabilitation package meant for the people of 29 villages who had to be displaced due to the construction of Polavaram project.

Under PRA, the role of district administration will be minimal. The concept, the brainchild of West Godavari district Collector Luv Agarwal sounds interesting. In case of Devaragondi and Mamidigondi villages, the district administration limited its role to explaining the salient features of the package and identified several places suitable for rehabilitating the displaced. The villagers visited all the places and themselves chose where they wished to stay.

“Now, we will ask the people to choose the plots where they want their houses to be constructed. Once, all the villagers identify the plots, construction of houses will be handed over to the NGOs,” says West Godavari district Collector Luv Agarwal .

As per the project schedule, people of seven villages have to be first rehabilitated in the new villages within three years. By the time, all this is over, the people will develop some attachment too to their new habitations, the Collector said. Though PAR is a time consuming process, its sustainability is more and the chances of irregularities are less, the Collector added. According to him, the State government has already cleared the proposals pertaining to Devaragondi and Mamidigondi villages and the process is on for the remaining habitations.

E-Governance for Conservation

Iniernet kiosks in rural areas

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 26, 2006

Forum Post

n-Logue  was established to serve the information and communications needs of people living in small towns and rural areas of India.

To rapidly scale its operations, the company employs a three-tiered business model based on the belief that delivery and management of Internet services should devolve to the level of the supply chain that comes closest to the user of the service. This decentralised model of operation draws, in large part, from the success of cable TV operations in India.

At the top level is n-Logue, which provides equipment, training and support to the LSPs(Local Service Providers) and kiosks, and also takes care of regulatory and connectivity issues.

At the second level, n-Logue identifies and partners with a local entrepreneur (also called a Local Service Provider or LSP) in every area it wishes to operate. These LSPs find subscribers, provide services and collect payments.

At the bottom level are the village kiosks, which provide services and information aimed at the rural market. With the help of n-Logue, the LSPs recruits the local entrepreneurs who set up the kiosks.

Thus there are up to three business entities involved in the operation - n-Logue, the LSP and a kiosk operator. All three must thrive for the operation to succeed.

Prof. Jhunjhunwallah of IIT Madras who is behind making available an Internet kiosk for just Rs 40,000 (around US$830) that could link up thousands of villages in the country has this to say

” Since we're talking about low investments we can create an army of rural entrepreneurs. They could avail of small loans to set up their own rural STD phone-cum-Internet centres," These small rural businessmen will be 50 per cent partners, and since they will be from the local areas in which they operate they will have far better contact with those with whom they work. In a 25km radius, they expect to find buyers for 500 to 700 connections. These may be individuals, government offices, schools and, most importantly, Internet kiosks that allow access to everyone. This level of operation should make a LSP viable, says Dr Jhunjhunwala.

Even if the numbers don't come in immediately, they will in a year's time when people start realising how new communication technologies empower them. Work towards this end is already underway at Cuddalore district, in India's southernmost province of Tamil Nadu. The technology is also being successfully implemented in Madurai (also in Tamil Nadu) and Dhar in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Likewise, the project is taking hold in Bagru of Rajasthan and Sangrur in north India. "We could have a million subscribers in three to four years. It's possible." Simultaneously, Jhunjhunwala is inspiring youngsters to work on rural Internet applications.

And also on offer is word-processing in the local Tamil language, a mail-client in Tamil, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) or voice-mail in the local language and an agricultural portal in the regional language. "We're adopting two key elements. Affordability, since everything is very low cost, and involving a local person in providing the solutions," says Professor Jhunjhunwala, explaining his model.

Thus far n-Logue has implemented the project in four centres. "The first-level feedback has been extremely encouraging. We have kiosks running in the middle of Madhya Pradesh where the average revenue a kiosk man makes is Rs 4,500 per month. Net of expenses, he makes Rs 3,000 per month, which makes him a rich man in that village,"

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