Saturday, May 26, 2007

Trip to BR Hills

Rashmi and I had been to this place called BR Hills near Mysore. It was early April and it was supposed to be a good time for sighting animals. But we were disappointed to know that a forest fire had burnt very large tracts of the forest and since there was no vegetation for the deer and other grazers, they had all moved away.
But luck was on our side. On the second night, we saw a bear in the moonlight, quite close to our log hut. It was scratching the ground and lazily moving around, making a lot of rustling noises among the fallen dry leaves.
The next day evening, as we were coming back from the safari, we saw a couple of deer, right by our side, totally ignoring us, and staring at something right ahead of us. They called twice, the sharp and loud "cow", the alarm call of the spotted deer. And then, from the grasses to the left, something came out on the road. In a second it vanished around the bend in the road. In a frenzy of excitement we urged the driver to drive down. He had not seen the animal come onto the road, but started driving down slowly to the bend. But the animal was gone.
We looked around, excited, frustrated and expectant. Someone saw a movement on the raised bank on the right. There it was, a full grown leopard, moving stealthily towards cover. A few more moves and the vegetation consumed the cat.
The now very excited driver guessed it must come out again a bit further and he started moving. And then we spotted it again. A magnificent animal, sitting right there, a few feet away, at a height on the raised bank which let us look at it straight in the eyes. I clicked away shaking with excitement. The leopard was just beautiful. I had never seen one so close and for so long. It just sat and looked at us. And slowly moved back, while still sitting, so that it was covered by some undergrowth. This is exactly how a tiger had behaved a few months back in Bandipur. Slowly creep backwards in imperceptible movements but soon be hidden from view behind some neighbouring undergrowth.

And then the leopard started moving. It came down the embankment and walked across the road and then down the curvy road which bent in a U to be parallel with us again. And man, was it brilliant. The leopard moved effortlessly, purposefully, silently, stealthily and man, so beautifully. And it was in full view of us all the time!
15 minutes had gone by and it was still around! Perfect sighting!
And then we started moving towards it, as we had to return to camp, and by then the leopard decided to vanish. And vanish he did. We could not figure out where he went.

We were again rewarded th next day with a bear sighting while we trekked nearby! Quite an eventful and satisfying three days!

Inter-linking of rivers in India is a bad idea

I think inter-linking of rivers in India is a bad idea.
Whenever any friend of mine sounds impressed with this grandiose idea, I have felt frustrated and disturbed. We tend to overlook smaller more effective solutions and go for more romantic and glamorous 'solutions'. So I had been hunting around to gather information on this and make a case of it to people who want to understand what the pros and cons of this effort are. Following are a few links which spell out the danger of going ahead with this plan which does not have enough scientific evidence or prior experience to back it.

The Interlinking of Indian Rivers

Some Questions on the Scientific, Economic and Environmental Dimensions of the Proposal

Paper presented at Seminar on Interlinking Indian Rivers: Bane or Boon?
at IISWBM, Kolkata
17 June 2002

The conclusion of the above goes thus: "At the end of the above review and analysis made on the basis of whatever open information is available on the project for interlinking the rivers in India, there appears a great inconsistency in the declared claims of the project, and their feasibility"

This link, by Shailendra Nath Ghosh, talks about what is wrong with the concept, and what questions need to be answered, to make a proper assessment of this project

More articles and opinions. Quite insightful.

Bangladesh's views on India's inter-linking of rivers (They too oppose this)

Narmada Bachao Aandolan's views in "Dams, Rivers and People": This talks about rehabilitation failures and need for local management and conservation than an imposed, top down solution. They may appear biased because of their image in the press but they are people who have seen and fought unselfishly for rehabilitation of displaced people.

"The proposal is even more dangerous as attempting to link up veins of different persons without trying to find out the blood groups of the individuals. He said consequences will be disastrous." from National Citizens’ Meeting in Delhi concludes: River Link Proposals ill conceived, not in national Interest

ILR in Supreme Court

Bahuguna opposes interlinking of rivers

I have not included any links which talk about the environmental aspects of this inter-linking. While the impact will be enormously destructive, talking about it seems to turn off people because they cannot see how economic growth and environmental conservation can co-exist. (May these lesser mortals exit soon)

So next time you hear of the inter-linking of rivers , doubt it, question it and take the side of what then comes out as true and right.