Welcome to the Archives

Save water movement begins journey from Gangotri

The Times of India News Service
November 3, 1997

DEHRA DUN: A 24-day-long yatra (journey) from Gangotri to Delhi has begun on Sunday morning as part of the current “save water movement” going on in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.

The yatra is being spearheaded by social workers and activists of the Garhwal region to emphasise the importance of proper utilisation of the existing water resources in the Uttarakhand hills known for the origin of rivers Ganga and Yamuna and several other large water bodies, waterfalls and rivulets.

The yatra, which started from the original source of Ganga, Gangotri, in Uttarkashi district of the sub-Himalayan Garhwal hills is scheduled to end in Delhi on November 25. The following day, the leaders of yatra are expected to submit separate memos to President K.R. Narayanan and Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, seeking active participation in the protection and reutilisation of the existing water resources in the hills of western Uttar Pradesh.

“In fact, we have all along been demanding reutilisation of some five thousand age-old, traditional water mills scattered over the 12 hill districts for purpose of generating electricity on a small scale,” Anil Joshi, director of Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO), told The Times Of India News Service. He explains as to how the existing water mills in Uttarakhand, which could have been easily revived and reutilised for the purpose of generating hydro-power at least up to the 50 KW, had been allowed to die a natural death due to the official apathy.

Mr Joshi emphasises that instead of installing mega hydro- projects such as Tehri dam and scores of others, across the rivers in the Uttarakhand hills, the decision-makers could have easily thought of setting up micro hydel schemes involving lesser costs and which could have eventually been easily manageable.

Traditional wooden water mills, quite ingenuous to Uttarakhand hills, have all along been used for the purpose of grinding grain.

They were in popular use in the hills during the British days and for some time after independence. However, in the years that followed, these mills were gradually abandoned by their owners due to non-cooperation from the officialdom and continued imposition of an impractical licence fee. As most of these mills were in the poor rural area near villages, the owners with practically no income could not afford to even pay the licence fee. Thus , the water mills began rotting in the absence of an alternative use.

Mr Joshi and his friends such as Kiran Rawat, J.P.Maithani, Sunil Kainthola, Brijmohan Sharma, Sandhya Joshi, Keya Kala, who are leading the yatra have now been demanding that these idle water mills be reutilised for the production of hydel power.