Enivronment

Arctic Sea melting and its impact on Geopolitics

An interesting mix n match analysis on one of the major development across the world The melting of Arctic Ice has significant ecological and geopolitical implications for the world. In the Arctic, the sea ice has shrunk by about two-thirds over three decades. Predictions by various models say the summertime Arctic sea ice could disappear completely by 2050. This will open new shipping rules are being, The ‘Polar Code’, as it is called is expected to boost traffic in the region, but will have stringent rules on pollution.

Why does this matter?

The Northern Sea Route along Russia’s edge, that is likely to be free of ice first, can reduce the sailing distance between Asian ports and northern Europe by 40 per cent. The other major Arctic shipping route is the Northwest Passage, which connects Europe and Asia. It is nearly 5,000 nautical miles shorter than the 12,600 nautical mile distance between Europe and Asia through the Panama Canal. The Arctic is believed to hold about 13 per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil, 30 per cent of its undiscovered natural gas, and 20 per cent of its undiscovered natural gas liquids.

The Current Situation

Right Now, there are no international conventions regulating Arctic shipping operations. Rules are coming into force in 2016. As of 2010, most Arctic shipping routes were ice-free for only about 30 days. The commercial shipping route is currently open for only about four months a year. The Concern ‘The Polar Code’ does not deal with the problem of ballast water discharge, which often introduces non-native species to a region, and continues to allow vessels to use heavy fuel oil, a potential pollutant.

Stance of Different Countries

Russia Submitted its initial claim to the North Pole, and 7,40,000 5q km of surrounding territory, to the UN in 2001. In 2006 Norway became the second and only Arctic nation besides Russia to submit an extended continental shelf claim. In 2013, end Canada said it would claim the North Pole, around 800 km north of Alert, Nunavut, the country’s – and the world’s – northermost settlement, provoking threats of military deployment by Moscow. Geographically, Denmark is not within the Arctic region. However, because of its territory, Greenland, and its province, the Faroe Islands, its potential claims to the Arctic extend from Greenland up to the North Pole, via the potentially oil-rich Lomonosov Ridge. Since International Law only allows countries to extend their territory 200 km offshore, the claims are based on some creative interpretations of where the landmasses end. All argue that mountain ranges that criss-cross the floor of the Arctic Ocean are extensions of their own continental shelves. It is up to the UN to adjudicate.

Conclusion

No country owns the geographic North Pole or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. However, the 5 countries located along the shore of the Arctic Ocean – Russia, the US, Denmark, Canada and Norway – have competing territorial claims. While some maintain that like Antarctica, the Arctic should not be exploited for any activity save scientific expeditions, others contend that its resources belong to the entire world.

BLIZZARDS

A blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong sustained winds of at least 56 km/h and lasting for a prolonged period of time—typically three hours or more. A blizzard is characterised by air temperatures that are low (generally less than –10 °C) and winds of at least 30 knots (55.6 km/hr) blow falling snow or that, which has already fallen, such that visibility does not exceed 200 m. For a storm to be classified as a strong blizzard, Winds must blow at a minimum of 40 knots (74: I km/hr),

Temperatures must be no higher than -12 °C and visibility must be effectively nil. A severe blizzard has winds over 72 km/h, near zero visibility, and temperatures of −12 °C or lower for a duration of at least 3 hours. A ground blizzard is a weather condition where snow is not falling but loose snow on the ground is lifted and blown by strong winds. The difference between a blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind, not the amount of snow. To be a blizzard, a snow storm must have sustained winds or frequent gusts that are greater than or equal to 56 km/h with blowing or drifting snow which reduces visibility to 400 meters or a quarter mile or less and must last for a prolonged period of time — typically three hours or more.

Nor’easter blizzards

A nor’easter is a macro-scale storm along the East Coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada; it gets its name from the direction the wind is coming from. The usage of the term in North America comes from the wind associated with many different types of storms some of which can form in the North Atlantic Ocean and some of which form as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.

FORMATION OF BLIZZARDS

There are set of three criteria that must be met for a storm to be considered a blizzard. First, there needs to be blowing or falling snow that results in a reduction of visibility to less than one-quarter of a mile. Second, the storm needs to produce sustained winds or frequent wind gusts in excess of 35 mph, and Finally, the previous two conditions need to continue for at least three hours. Blizzard conditions often develop due to intense pressure differences. The difference between the lower pressure in the storm and the higher pressure to the creates a tight pressure gradient, which in turn results in very strong winds. These winds combine with snow and blowing snow to produce extreme conditions. Storm systems powerful enough to cause blizzards usually form when the jet stream (a very fast moving wind, 240-300 km/hr) which in a sense drags cold polar air, dips far to the south, allowing cold air from the north to clash with warm air from the south leading to formation of front (the narrow zone separating cold and warm air masses). With the colder and drier polar air, atmospheric temperatures fall enough for the development of snow, sleet, or freezing rain.

American Blizzards

When cold, moist air from the Pacific Ocean moves eastward to the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, and warmer, moist air moves north from the Gulf of Mexico, all that is needed is a movement of cold polar air moving south to form potential blizzard conditions that may extend from the Texas to the Great Lakes. Another storm system occurs when a cold core low over the Hudson Bay area in Canada is displaced southward over southeastern Canada, the Great Lakes, and New England. When the rapidly moving cold front collides with warmer air coming north from the Gulf of Mexico, strong surface winds, a lot of cold air advection, and extensive wintry precipitation occur. Low pressure systems moving out of the Rocky Mountains onto the Great Plains can cause thunderstorms and rain to the south and heavy snows and strong winds to the north. With few trees or other obstructions to reduce wind and blowing, this part of the country is particularly vulnerable to blizzards with very low temperatures and whiteout conditions. What are its various impacts?

#1. Whiteout

Blizzards can bring whiteout conditions. In a true whiteout there is no visible horizon and multiple reflection allows the sense of direction and distance to be lost. People can become lost in their own front yards, when the door is only 10 feet (3 meters) away, and they would have to feel their way back. Motorists have to stop their cars where they are, as the road is impossible to see. Whiteouts can paralyze regions for days at a time, particularly where snowfall is unusual or rare.

#2. Wind chill

The wind chill factor is the amount of cooling the human body feels due to the combination of wind and temperature. Blizzard conditions of cold temperatures and strong winds can cause wind chill values that can result in hypothermia or frostbite.

#3. Inundation and Flooding

All the snow that blizzards usher in has to go somewhere. When the temperatures start to rise, the snow melts too quickly and abundantly for it to be absorbed, which increases the risk of flooding, especially in coastal areas. Blizzards also cause sea levels to rise, which can lead to flooding. Floods devastate the plant and animal population, shifting the local ecosystem and potentially impacting the food supply. Floods can also spread pollution from oil dropped on parking lots to plastic bags left out on the street; pesticides; fertilizers and detergents. All of these impact the water supply and further poison the plant and animal population.

#4. Destabilised Water Cycle

Whether blizzards result in flooding, they blanket the land with heavy precipitation that is drawn up into the atmosphere as a result of evaporation. Whether it is the snow from the blizzard or the water from the resulting flood, blizzards can contribute to heavy accumulation of water vapour in the atmosphere. That can lead to greater rainfall throughout the rest of the year, including heavy storms. Those storms can raise water levels and impact plant and animal populations, depending on their severity.

#5. Ecosystem impact

Temperatures quickly drop below zero during a blizzard, especially with the wind chill. Ice and winds cause trees to fall and plants to die. Such storms have the potential to cause significant damage to entire forests, which then release carbon during decay. The excess carbon causes an imbalance in the local ecosystem, which impacts other plants and wildlife. When other plants and flora are killed during a blizzard, their lack of availability also impacts the food supply for local animals and wildlife. Additionally, Trees, plants, and crops can die in a blizzard, because of the extreme cold. Tree branches and limbs can break.

#6. Mold and Fungus Damage

Blizzards create wet or damp conditions for extended periods, both while there is snow on the ground and while it is melting. The on-going wet and damp conditions encourage the spread of mold and fungi. Some mold and fungi are beneficial for the environment because they help break down decaying matter, like fallen trees. However, some mold and fungi damage the environment by destroying plants and trees that provide food sources and are important to sustaining the local ecosystem.

#7. Effect on city life

1.A blizzard can shut down a city, sometimes for days. Transportation can be impossible. Adults cannot get to work. People can be stuck in their homes for days. 2.Electrical wires often go down because of the heavy wind and snow. This leaves people with no electricity. 3.A blizzard can cause lots of property damage, such as roof cave-ins and windows breaking. Trees can fall on houses, cars, etc. 4.Blizzards are the cause of car accidents. Cars can be stranded on highways too. 5.Blizzards are life-threatening storms taking lives. 6.Blizzards can hurt the economy.

UTTARAKHAND FLOODS & LANDSLIDE

Uttarakhand, the Himalayan state is rugged has a fragile geophysical structure, very high peaks, high angle of slopes, complex geology, variable climatic conditions and active tectonic processes.

1. Himalayas formed when the Indian plate collided with the Eurasian plate 55 million years ago. The Himalayas are continuously rising as plate convergence between India and Tibet continues. The collision makes the Himalayas an unstable zone. This triggers earthquakes, fracturing and shearing of rocks, making the Himalayan slopes unstable. The process of formation led to rivers forming gorges through rising mountains. It is in these rivers that huge silt has been deposited. At the same time, steep slopes, cliffs were created, especially in and around the Alaknanda-Bhagirathi systems. All this leads to the Himalayan Mountains slopes to be fragile. To cap it all the westerlies collided with the rising air stream of the monsoons to lead to intense rains

2. During April-June strong westerlies are generally active over the mid-latitudes (areas between the tropics and the polar regions, approximately 30° to 60°lat). In May and June the westerlies, which flooded central Europe, reached and were responsible for very heavy rainfall and flooding in central European nations, such as Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic to the Himalayan states via Afghanistan to collide with the monsoon, triggered deadly rains. Driven by westerlies, western disturbances, swept into the north Indian hilly states around mid-June, where a monsoon-related low-pressure system had already moved in from Bay of Bengal. In general, the monsoon is relatively weaker in the Himalayan region, which is located near the "periphery" or the northern limit of the monsoon that brings up to 80% of India's annual rainfall. When westerlies encounter the monsoon, they stagnate. The westerlies virtually locked on to the monsoon system, the two systems feeding moisture into each other gave rise to intense interaction. While monsoon currents progress from south to northwest, western disturbances move across north India from west to east, driving up pressure. In fact, in some Himalayan areas, the monsoon is activated by western disturbances. The unusual combination of westerlies along with monsoons led to intense upliftment of moisture-laden winds and deadly cloudburst. That caused excessive runoff, triggering landslides and flooding. Such mechanism of excessive rainfall is not unusual for the Himalayan region, nor such type of flooding is unusual as such an event takes place in one or another region of the Himalayas.

3. It was GLOF (Glacial Lake Outburst Flood) that caused Kedarnath floods. Kedarnath floods 2013 were caused by the burst of Chorabari Lake or Gandhi Sarovar. Gandhi Sarovar or Chorabari Lake is located at 3,900 metres is a permanent water body on the side of the Chorabari glacier and has been in existence even in maps of the area from 1962. The glacier is about two km upstream from the Kedarnath temple. The lake is surrounded by hard rock on one side and a lateral moraine on the other. The lake is fed by snow and not by the waters of the Chorabari glacier which has receded over the years. The lake was full to the brim and burst its moraine barrier since there was no natural drainage. That outburst is what caused the most damage on June17 and the tons of sediment and water wreaked havoc down the valley. The over 300 mm of rain recorded on June 15 and 16 accelerated the snow melt into the lake. The rain was too early and too heavy causing this extreme event. Although floods are natural and are part of the hydrological cycle, and floods must also occur and that they must take place because it cleanses the entire system. But, floods also become a hazard when the hydrological cycle is destabilised and the humans interfere with it without having known the dynamics of nature.

A man made disaster

Uttarakhand has an unplanned settlement, an ever increasing population, weak economic condition and a low literacy rate. Apart from these factors, resource constraint, the lack of technical manpower, the lack of public awareness, very remote, rural and difficult geo-physical situation of the country, absence of modern technology and so on are other factors Uttarakhand prone to disasters. The recent Uttarakhand floods were more manmade than natural. It was not a natural event or phenomena, it was a man-made disaster. The Uttarakhand floods were caused by many man made events one above another in their intensity of effect.

Uttarakhand has an unplanned settlement, an ever increasing population, weak economic condition and a low literacy rate. Apart from these factors, resource constraint, the lack of technical manpower, the lack of public awareness, very remote, rural and difficult geo-physical situation of the country, absence of modern technology and so on are other factors Uttarakhand prone to disasters. The recent Uttarakhand floods were more manmade than natural. It was not a natural event or phenomena, it was a man-made disaster. The Uttarakhand floods were caused by many man made events one above another in their intensity of effect.

1. Unplanned growth and rampant felling of forests responsible for this scale of disaster. The Himalayan water divides and slopes have witnessed unprecedented deforestation over a long period. Forest cover depletion has loosened soil, and this leads to frequent landslides. Landslides block the natural flow of water leading to inundation or constriction of the river path. While official estimates say forest cover has increased in the Himalaya, observations and facts do not give credence to this claim. The fact is that forests have been actually diverted for a host of land use activities such as agriculture, human settlements and urban built up area expansion for infrastructure development such as hydropower construction as well as road building. Scientific studies indicate that at the current rates of deforestation, the total forest cover in the Indian Himalaya will be reduced from 84.9 per cent (of the value in 1970) in 2000 to no more than 52.8 per cent in 2100. Dense forest areas, on which many forest taxa (groups of species) critically depend, would decline from 75.4 per cent of the total forest area in 2000 to just 34 per cent in 2100, which is estimated to result in the extinction of 23.6 per cent of taxa restricted to the dense Himalayan forests. Vegetative cover slows the speed of falling rain and prevents soil erosion and gully formation - the precursors to landslides and floods. Dense vegetation, by evapotranspiration, also stops nearly 30-40 percent of rainwater from falling to the ground, thereby significantly reducing run-off. Besides holding the soil together, forests and soil soak water from the rain, release it slowly and prevent water flowing as run-off, So, deforestation brings about slope destabilisation which leads to landslides. The landslide and debris flow downstream add enormous load to the streams causing the valley volume to decrease and spilling of the rivers causing flood.

2. Conversion of Pine to Oak Plantation. These parts of the Himalayas that once boasted of oak forests had turned into pine woods. Oak is an un-exploitable tree for commerce compared to the pine that has a variety of uses. From pine resin to its wood, everything is used profitably by man. Pine is profitable for man but it is not profitable for the Himalayas. The oak is a wonderful tree that in fall over years and decades creates a layer of black subsoil that nourishes the thickest undergrowth one can ever see. These scrubs and brushwood feed on rainwater that seeps down to create an organic whole, a sort of natural masonry that toughens and fortifies the soil against erosion caused even by heavy rainfall. Pine trees, unlike the oak, do not grow leaves, but needles that fall and form a smooth dry bed that does not soak water. This prevents the soil from developing underbrush. Oaks are not protected by law enforcers. In any case the forest department, comprising no doubt some prized ignoramuses, do not mind this because they watch the pines creep up where once were oaks. Oaks are not protected by law enforcers as it does not ensure that profitability. In order to Green the Himalaya, the forest department greened the Himalayas s all they wanted was a Green cover, irrespective of the type of the tree. Pine is chosen as it spins out more money.

3. Erratic rain pattern which may have been a product of climatic and weather aberrations led to intense bursts of rain first, and then its subsequent slowdowns causes the Himalayan rocks to be loosened flooding of silted rivers. Some recent studies, pointed out that Himalayan ecosystems have experienced faster rates of warming in the last 100 years and more than the European Alps or other mountain ranges of the world. In such a scenario, a faster melting of glaciers is expected with a higher water discharge in the Himalayan rivers.

4. Series of dams have upset ecological cycle and hill slope stability. Construction 70 hydro-electric projects recently, including 37 in high landslide susceptibility zone increases the instability of slopes. Large-scale dam building in recent years has caused massive land use changes with ensuing problems in the Himalayan watersheds. Hydropower and allied construction activities are potential sources of slope weakening and destabilisation. Most downstream damage in otherwise flood-free areas is caused by dams and barrages, which release large volumes of water to safeguard engineering structures. Dam operators often release more water during rains than the carrying capacity of downstream areas, causing floods, increasing erosion and destabilising the base of the slopes further.

5. Pilgrimage are responsible for significant human movement into the Himalaya beyond the region's carrying capacity, whether it is Amarnath in Jammu & Kashmir Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Hemkund inUttrakhand. Commercialisation of pilgrimage routes with encroachment on river banks, forests and dangerous slopes increased risks manifold. The heavy pilgrim population has also resulted in the mushrooming of shanty towns, cheap accommodation and numerous ramshackle buildings along river banks. Huge building construction, cheap hotels and individual dwellings at Uttarkashi, on the banks of the Assi and Bhagirathi rivers have been allowed. There is hardly any buffer between the river and the human settlements. While it is important to appreciate the aspirations of the local people and their economic activities, there cannot be a lack of enforcement of land use control laws on the part of local governments and officials.

6. A complete neglect of urban planning has led to settlements coming up in danger areas in Rudraprayag, Joshimath, Chamoli etc. These settlements havent followed a simple rule-‘Where the river has its way, stay out it.’ Whether it was Kosi sometime back, and now Alaknanda or Bhagirathi, the rule applies to all. 7. The illegal sand mining that is so common and rampant both of it has removed the protective cover at the base of the slope increasing its vulnerability to various types of mass movements, landslides and slippages. 8. 3 yrs ago, while auditing hydel projects in Uttarakhand, CAG had warned about severe ecological hazards. Its report ignored.

Suggestions

1. Increasing literacy rate and train the people to rediscover their local wisdom, and civilisation. As a part of literacy, and school education, disaster management course should be included in the school and university curriculum. It is also necessary to train school teachers, selected students, women leaders, health workers and social workers to educate others in measures to prevent or mitigate the natural disasters. Such types of program may convince people to believe that natural disasters are not an act of God, rather it is a product of peoples’ action who lose their respect for environment and natural surrounding. To attain all this, there is the need of the strong political determination, pragmatic policy formulation and quick decision making. It is also needed very much to think on improving road infrastructure without slope destailisation and other alternatives to road transport such as ropeway; improving communication facilities to carry out rescue and relief works effectively and efficiently. In order to prevent inappropriate construction of buildings, the building code should be strictly implemented.

2.Afforestation and Species Composition Change. Planting oak by the removal of pine. The oak is ecologically wonderful because its fall over years and decades creates a layer of black subsoil that nourishes a thick undergrowth. These scrubs and brushwood feed on rainwater that seeps down to create an organic whole, a sort of natural masonry that toughens and fortifies the soil against erosion caused even by heavy rainfall

3. Independent and serious monitoring of the catchment area treatment plans proposed by Forest Departments with funds from hydropower companies needs to be carried out and reported to the Green Tribunal.

4. Himalayan State governments need to consider imposing high environmental tax on visitors, particularly during summer and monsoon months. Heavily sizing down pilgrim numbers in fragile areas must begin

5.All vulnerable buildings need to be either secured or relocated away from rivers. Governments must impose penalties on buildings structures within 200 metres of river banks.

6. Hydropower policy must consider building fewer dams and prioritise those that have the least environmental and social costs.

7.This increasing variability and intense downpours are consequence of temperature changes and other weather aberrations, due to the capacity of warmer air to hold more water vapour. It happened last year inUttarkashi, it's occurred this year again. It's going to continue to happen, frequently. This raises three issues

8. Surely adaptation means not just desperate evacuation during and after extreme rains, but preparing for them. Experts suggest prior warning systems are feasible, with reasonable investment. Given there was no warning from the IMD, what technological or administrative improvement do we need to ensure that advance warnings are issued before such future events?

9.Two, that needs not just technology but political will. We need to collectively challenge the callous indifference that most political elites have for the lives and livelihoods of the poor

10.And three, even assuming a best-case scenario of capacity, efficiency and political will, what impacts and devastation are inescapable in a difficult and mountainous terrain? What we are currently experiencing is in a world 0.9°C warmer than pre-industrial temperatures. Due to the lag between carbon emissions and global warming, a significantly warmer world is inevitable, as are more extreme events

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

In the light of water scarcity that has plagued Maharashtra, a lot of talk is going to revive the interlinking of the rivers plan.

The interlinking of rivers offers some solutions, but comes with a big load of problems

Environmental:

1. Inbuilt in the linking philosophy is that the rivers flooding is a disaster and that it should be curbed.

2. River flooding, in lowland areas particularly, is good for agriculture and ecology. If all human civilization and development are due to sustainability of agriculture then there is no earth process that is more beneficial to mankind than natural river flooding.

3.Floods are a constructive geological process, Floods are responsible for alluvium deposits in the Gangetic Plains. The floodwater brings along nutrient rick sediments, which get deposited in the plains, a process so crucial to agriculture.

4.River flooding created fertile plains, by depositing nutrient-rich sediments, which had acquired the textures and mineralogy to hold enormous quantities of water and nutrients. River flooding as a constructive geological process will be eliminated once interlinking takes place.

5.Allowing the rivers not to flood will cut down the sediment supply and this could cause coastal and delta erosion by waves and longshore currents.

6.On a geological timescale, this will result in a loss of productive farmland as well as small-scale sea transgressions. If the global warming is a reality and taking place, with a consequent sea level rise on the east coast, the cumulative effect of coastal erosion due to reduction of sediment supply and the sea level rise could lead to large scale sea transgressions into the coastal areas.

7.The floodplains allow the rivers to store store the excess water in these floodplains and deltas during monsoons and release it during dry periods to maintain the minimum flow and to sustain agriculture. The floodplain formation will stop once the rivers are linked.

8.Whenever water goes through any living body, the chemistry of its dissolved solute changes. The entire ecosystem along a river and at its mouth has evolved in response to the natural and dynamic changes in the chemistry of flowing water as well as small-scale physiographic changes along the river and its adjacent region. This chemistry will change in case of river linking.

9.There is a strong symbiosis between marine and land life systems on earth. The hydrologic cycle provides fresh water to the land from the oceans. Water, fallen on land either as rainfall on snowfall, weathers rocks on land and picks up the nutrient elements as dissolved solutes, and carries them through surface run-off (rivers) as well as subsurface flows to the sea. The linking of rivers would cause little water to be returned back to sea. If only little water is returned to the oceans there are at least two major consequences.

10.Marine life is deprived of nutrient supply and marine productivity could get adversely affected.

11.The Bay of Bengal (BoB) is uniquely characterised by the presence of a less-dense and low-saline layer of water. The presence of this low-salinity layer helps in the maintenance of high sea-surface temperatures (greater than 28°C), a requirement though to be responsible for the intensification of summer monsoon in the BoB. A very large part of the Indian subcontinent gets summer monsoon rainfall because of the development and maintenance of a low-pressure system in the Bay of Bengal. Monsoons can get adversely affected if floods dont take place.

12.Once reservoirs and virtually a country-wide network of canals are created, this will play havoc with this ecological role. It will not only impoverish river valleys and the prosperity, it will lead to systained displacement of local communities.

13.As one sees in Punjab and Haryana, it will lead to waterlogging and salinity in the absence of proper drainage that rivers provide.

14.It will fragment wildlife habitats: Animals require corridors to connect them to far-flung forests, and these will be severed by the construction of reservoirs and canals.

Political:

Moreover, this river-linking plan can become a potential source of perennial conflicts at various level: centre versus state, state versus state, state versus people, urban versus rural etc.

Constitutional:

The National River-Linking Plan is a blatant violation of constitutional provisions, especially in two areas.

1. First, it is a cryptic effort to circumvent states’ control over water and placing it in the hands of the centre, de factor

2.

3.Second, it wipes out all the ambiguous and unresolved issues or rights over water, forest, and land, in just one stroke. This second aspect poses a great threat to the functioning of thousands of field-based smaller action groups engaged in empowering local communities, mostly rural, voiceless and marginalized. It therefore becomes pertinent that such groups have adequate information of the river-linking plan and keep updating it from time to time in the future, as and when the complete picture begins to unravel, especially those groups working in the areas falling under these 30 river links.

The plan may also lead to greater conflict at the international level. Cooperation of neighbouring countries, is crucial for the success of the river-linking project.

Economic-Socio-Environmental Considerations

It has been claimed in the official documents that no new reservoirs are planned for construction under this river network plan in Peninsular India but it seems that it is merely a technical jargon. It implies that various dam projects, pending with the government owing to various reasons, will be brought under the fold of this plan and will be put on fast track in the name of national interest. Many of these projects are delayed because of environmental and financial reasons, which mean that now these parameters will be swept away.

Macro-Economic and Financial Factors

1The two components of inter-linking, the Himalayan and the Peninsular Rivers Development will cost Rs. 560,000 crores (US $112 billion), at 2003 rates. The enormity of this can be gauged from the fact that this amount is:

2.More than the total debt incurred in last 50 years

3.It is equal to 25% of the national GDP

4.It is 2.5 times more than the tax revenue

5.More than the total market capitalization of India’s 500 biggest companies

6.The inter-linking of rivers can only be completed by taking massive foreign loans, as many of the current ongoing water development projects are being completed with similar loans. It is really essential to push the country into yet another debt cycle? Why are other successful alternatives not being given priority and tried? In this context it becomes pertinent to look at the performance of the dams.

7.In last two decades of the past century, very strong anti-dam, mass-based, people’s movements have emerged throughout the country, drawing worldwide attention on some fundamental issues related to water management.

8.As per government claims, overall 79,292 hectares of forest land, will come under the submergence of this project.

9.Secondly, there are 24 river basins in India, as per the MOER, GOI. Even a cursory look at the boundaries of each river basin is enough to tell a common man that a large number of lifts will be involved in the river linking.

10.Thirdly, each river regime is unique in its own way within its own ecosystem. Which will be disrupted.

Engineering limitations

The most important of these pertains to the difficulty of lifting water from the north up to the Deccan. This will entail enormous amounts of energy much of which has to be produced by hydro power to begin with and renders the scheme infructuous from the start. It has been suggested that a Central authority should construct huge reservoirs on the Ganga and Brahmaputra and link these two mighty rivers with canals, thereby diverting surplus waters south-eastwards into the Mahanadi. Any scheme that smacks of gigantomania of this kind ought to be questioned