Tag Archives: Ganges

Indian Street Cricket From The Eyes Of Jack Hoyle

Jack Hoyle is writing a book on the madness that cricket incites in Indian minds. He is a fascinating photographer and here he produces street cricket in India while he travelled the country during the IPL. Here’s presenting the first part of the three-part series. Enjoy 🙂

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In the backstreets of New Delhi a group of youths squeeze a quick game in.

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In Varanasi a group of boys find space between the winding alleys. If the wicket keeper misses it’s a long chase to retrieve the ball out of the Ganges.

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The emblem of a street cricket club in Varanasi.

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A man sits oblivious as a young cricketer strikes the ball, while playing on the banks of the Ganges, Varanasi.

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A typical Sunday in Khajuraho; the streets are closed and the adults look on as the young boys take each other on.

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A dubious action, but you can’t fault the effort as a young bowler comes steaming in.

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Uttarakhand Floods: Nature’s Fury or Have We Dug Our Own Graves? – Part VII

Chandan Das connects the dots between the negative impact of human intervention in the Himalayan ecosystem and the wrath of Nature as we have seen in the form of Uttarakhand Floods!

Of all that is most beauteous, imaged there In happier beauty; more pellucid streams, An ampler ether, a diviner air, And fields invested with purpureal gleams. William Wordsworth

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Never Tamper with the Nature!!

All of us believe that the Holy Ganga is like a pious and pure Mother. Well, If the Ganges was personified as She has been throughout the Hindu tradition, these development projects have inflicted perverse murderous assaults on her body!!

Nowadays, the flow of the Ganges shrinks during non-monsoon period. The dumping of muck on river bed is reducing the navigable depth. Shallow rivers are more volatile than the deeper ones. The dams release excess water leading to inundation. The rampant blasting of the mountains, diversion of river, redirecting the river through tunnels (call Run of the River) are factors which destabilise the fragile ecosystem of the Uttarakhand. Massive intervention in the Himalayan ecosystems through manipulation of rivers and their hydrology, is linked to what we are witnessing today. With many highways damaged, bridges washed away, electricity and phone networks down, several ravaged places continue to be marooned, expect the final tally to be horrifying. After all, the speediest monsoon in over 50 years has just dumped over 400% more than average rainfall over Uttarakhand. But with the state currently reeling from a disaster, the full impact of which is still unknown, Uttarakhand will have to face difficult questions over its choices and may have to rethink its priorities. As Uttarakhand grapples with one of the worst natural disasters the state has faced in recent years, questions are being raised on whether a lot of the destruction was man-made !!

So was it just a nature’s fury or have we dug our own graves?

Can you handle the TRUTH?

Today, India accounts for one-fifth of the deaths caused due to flooding across the world. Twenty-four out of the 35 States and Union Territories are vulnerable to disasters and over five percent of our landmass is vulnerable to floods. Annually, an average of about 18.6 million hectares of land area and 3.7 million hectares crop area are affected by flooding. This has led to a great amount of concern—but not a whole load of action. With Uttarakhand struggling to cope with one of the worst ecological disasters in recent memory, the final toll of fatalities may “run into thousands”. This makes the extent of the damage from landslides, cloudbursts and resulting flash floods truly apocalyptic and one of the biggest human tragedies and property losses in India in several years. As we watch the escalating devastation of lives, homes, livelihoods and public utilities, we shrug about how helpless we are before the wrath of Mother Nature. The bottom line is that in a region that has more reason than most for disaster preparedness, both local and central arms of the government have been greatly wanting. Personnel of the Army, Border Roads Organisation and Indo-Tibetan Border Police are trying their best. But a couple of dozen helicopters flying a few hundred sorties a day to rescue a region full of distressed citizens is emblematic of millennial India’s broken promises.

So was it just a nature’s fury or have we dug our own graves?

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Ganga…What Happened to You?

By Shivani Gupta

Excerpt from my diary entry – 9th April 2013

Crazy limbs bound in harem pants and loose shirt, flying in all direction, eyes brimmed with tears, cold breeze slapping on cheeks to wake me up…but I was lost. I was lost with the crowd underneath tri- color canopy next to Ganga Ghat.

While we were busy releasing our caged inner soul from turmoil’s of hunger and quenches of daily life there was somebody enjoying show stealthily. When our limbs were moving up, down, right and left in chorus, she was lying lazily, stretched and basking under sun. Her charismatic beauty was scintillating with sun reflection and embellished with diamond stars. Her rattling noise against pebbles was like peals of laughter. She was laughing on our complexity and eagerness to evolve and be like her.

flood 1Dark clouds on India have only one sadistic tale to narrate. It is unfortunate to see believers of Ganga against her and accusing her to take away lives of their beloved ones. Ganga known to spread happiness, prosperity and divinity is sprawling catastrophically on humanity.

Certainly, something has gone wrong with her. Two months back when I met her she wasn’t like this, she was calm and serene. I have seen long queue of believers, embracing her with holy bath.

Two months back, I met Ganga at Ganga Ghat at International Yoga Festival (IYF) in Rishikesh. IYF was perfect excuse for me to live by myself for seven days, do what I am passionate about – Yoga. Away from hustle bustle of life, with hundreds of Yogi from different nations, performing different styles of Yoga and learning about eternal peace.

Those seven days were slow as each moment was enjoyed fullest. I was away from family, friends and gadgets with social network. I had nothing to tweet or share on face book but to evolve myself as a Yogi. Unexpectedly, in those seven days I became very close to one, I didn’t understand her language, she was different from others. It was due to her presence I never felt to ink my experience in diary.

Idol of lord shiva stands stalwart in the beautiful river GangaAfter morning sessions when everybody dismissed for shower, I rushed in my flip flops, yoga mat pressed between arm pits and clothes drenched in sweat to Ganga Ghat. Spending time in solitude with her was intoxicating. When she was around my fully loaded heart with emotions, flashback stories and gossips was lighter.

On last day, I didn’t meet her as could not muster guts to say her ‘Bye’. I had no choice to be like her; unrestrained and self ruling Ganga.

I am alive and caged happily in my same routine.

Uttarakhand Floods: Nature’s Fury or Have We Dug Our Own Graves? – Part III

In the third part of the Uttarakhand Flood series, Chandan Das discusses how hydel projects have been undertaken without assessing the environmental impact.

The world is too much with us; late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours. –William Wordsworth

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HYDEL ENERGY PROJECTS: “Energy” Wasted!!

Remember how the Ganga warriors had claimed earlier that the Central government was not serious about keeping its assurance for stopping the work on hydroelectric projects on Alaknanda and Mandakini, the two main tributaries of the Ganga?  Around 220 hydroelectric projects on the Mandakini and the Alaknanda have been sanctioned!! 200?? Two 20km tunnels are being built to divert these rivers for hydel projects and constant blasting of the river banks has affected the local ecology. Interestingly, they meet at Rudraprayag, the epicenter of today’s devastation. These projects have been allowed without cumulative environment impact assessment on the region. With these projects come hotels, residential and commercial buildings and roads. This piecemeal approach has just raised the spectre of the gold rush. Scientific studies indicate that at the current rates of deforestation, the total forest cover in the Indian Himalaya will be reduced from 84.9 % (of the value in 1970) in 2000 to no more than 52.8 % in 2100. Dense forest areas, on which many forest taxa critically depend, would decline from 75.4% of the total forest area in 2000 to just 34 % in 2100, which is estimated to result in the extinction of 23.6 % of taxa restricted to the dense Himalayan forests.

I mean it’s like creating a ticking time bomb as the construction involved large-scale deforestation. Today, the green cover on the hills that checks and absorbs the flow of water has been eroded in the name of hydel energy. And all these hydel projects have been undertaken without assessing their impact on environment, hence the huge devastation. Because when you remove trees, blast rocks and exert unscientific anthropogenic pressure, it’s imperative that the nature will play havoc!!

So was it just a nature’s fury or have we dug our own graves?

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Uttarakhand Floods: Nature’s Fury or Have We Dug Our Own Graves? – Part I

Uttarakhand Floods is probably the most debatable topic currently. Environmentalists believe that this is a man-made disaster. Chandan Das explores the topic in a similar strain. He believes that human beings have dug their own graves by invoking the wrath of Nature!

“And much it grieved my heart to think what man has made of man” – William Wordsworth

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Ok I will start with a Fact: The Himalayan region is home to several major Hindu pilgrimage centres – beginning from Rishikesh and Haridwar where the River Ganga first flows out into the plains. Every year thousands go to do the Char Dham Yatra. On 15th June 2013 a calamity “Himalayan tsunami” arrived and a tragedy struck Uttarakhand that was waiting to happen for a long time now. The rivers flowing across the famed pilgrimage sites became so furious that they submerged whole towns, washing away shops, homes, hotels and lodges.  Buildings collapsed like pack of cards as swollen rivers pounded down the denuded hills making a poignant view. The lofty green mountains, that would inspire even a deadpan to break into a song earlier, became barren. Today, as I write this , almost 62,000 of pilgrims have been left stranded, 1000 plus lives have been lost (oh yeah, the toll is likely to rise), property worth crores and the world-famous pilgrimage Kedarnath, located at a height of 11,760 feet , has been damaged by the latest fury of the monsoon. But here is my point: The injustice man did to the rivers in the name of development have left the beautiful water bodies seething with anger. It seems like Nature wanted to restore the balance that was disturbed by rivers having to change their course and due to blocking of their natural flow in the name of progress!!

So is it just a Nature’s fury or have we dug our own graves?

The Uncontrolled Traffic: Do We Have the “Capacity”?

The valleys of the Yamuna, the Ganga and the Alaknanda witness heavy traffic of tourists. In any normal day, if you sit at the Prayag bridge for tea and start counting, one will notice 80 buses crossing in about 5 minutes. 80 buses in 5 minutes?? Yeah you heard it right!!

Figure this: In 2005-06, 83,000-odd vehicles were registered in UTTARAKHAND. The figure increased to nearly 180,000 in 2012-13. Out of this, proportion of jeeps, cars and taxis, increased the most. In 2005-06, 4,000 vehicles were registered, which jumped to 40,000 in 2012-13 – a whopping 1000 per cent increase!! The heavy pilgrim population has also resulted in the mushrooming of shanty towns, numerous ramshackle buildings and cheap accommodation along river banks. It’s a known fact that there is a straight co-relation between tourism increase and higher incidence of landslides. Road contractors, who come from outside, do not understand the mountains. Most of the expressways that are being constructed now are tangled in legal cases. After cutting of mountains, landslides continue for up to four years, and contractors go bankrupt clearing the debris.  We see more landslides nowadays because of unplanned development in the hills. Most of these places have much more tourist inflow than the area’s carrying capacity. A new (mountain) range like the Himalaya will remain steady if not tampered with much. But the huge expansion of roads and transport is bringing the mountains in Uttarakhand down!!

So was it just a nature’s fury or have we dug our own graves?

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Garhwal Diaries 2 – Enroute Devaprayag

After Haridwar, Sampurna Majumder continues her photographic journey to Devaprayag.

IMG_0219The road while leaving Haridwar

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Verdant greens

IMG_0225A random click

IMG_0224Technology finds its way amidst nature!

IMG_0228The confluence of Rivers Bhagirathi and Alkananda