The Indian sub-continent is home to seven major rivers systems and more than 400 rivers. Many originate from glaciers (Himalayas) as well as forested catchments (highlands of central, western and eastern regions) and find their way either to the Bay of Bengal (east flowing rivers) or to the Arabian Sea (west flowing rivers).
Anthropogenic pressures have adversely affected the river system which has been indiscriminately dammed, diverted, channelized, encroached and polluted. Rivers, as ecosystems, have been neglected. Hence there is a dearth of legal action to safeguard this valuable resource.
Keeping this in view, India Rivers Week was inaugurated on 24 November 2014. The objective of this conclave was to educate and generate awareness among people about river restoration. It was a forum where ideas, experiences and practices were shared and exchanged. This annual/biennial meet, the first of its kind, is set on mainstreaming the cause and campaign for river’s restoration and conservation in the country by bringing together river experts, enthusiasts and decision makers at a common platform for engendering across learning of ideas, experiences and river restoration techniques.
The sessions saw the initiation and development of a dialogue on the key issues pertaining to river conservation. The various talks and discussions helped in challenging the reductive view of rivers that sees them as mere water-systems and highlighting their ecological and sociological importance. “Our attitude toward Indian rivers is paradoxical. On the one hand we venerate it and on the other we show complete disrespect and lack of concern. We must ensure that we see them as ecological systems, not water systems,” said our chief guest, Mr Jairam Ramesh.
This initiative to being committed to the cause of river conservation saw an encouraging participation this year. From here, we only aim at going further upstream.