Massive dam project that threatens all this holy man knows

Photo: A. J. T. Johnsingh, WWF-India and NCF

The era of mega-dam building is far from over.

“He has a clean heart,” my guide Pritam says of the baba. But the holy man is worried, he says. His temple sits at the confluence of two rivers, the Sarayu and the Mahakali, in the foothills of the Himalayas. They hold a fish called the Golden Mahseer. The rivers, the fish, and the temple are all threatened by the construction one of the largest dams in the world.

The Pancheswhar Dam will be three hundred feet taller than Hoover Dam in the U.S., spanning a canyon about two kilometers downstream from here. It will produce more than 5000 megawatts of electricity, provide irrigation to India and Nepal, and control the raging monsoon outflow, which swells the watershed each June. Pancheswhar will be so massive that another dam will have to be constructed a few kilometers downstream to restrain the flow spilling from its base when its gates are open.

Eight tunnels will be built, planners say, to divert the flow of the Mahakali during the twenty years the dam is being fabricated. As the waters rise, foot by foot, 49,000 families in more than 230 villages will lose their homes.

LINK (via: WFFA)

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2 thoughts on “Massive dam project that threatens all this holy man knows

  1. Knew the then scarcely fished, magical, remote spot well. I had a good fish “on” myself at the Junction one late 1970s – early ’80s morning when my companion, Lt. Col. Morris Mehta of Dehra Dun (died 1990), one of a triumvirate of great north Indian mahseer-fishers of the post-War generation, fishing 40 yards above me, cried “YES!” as a fish took his own plug far out in the rushing blue-green flow.

    His “YES!” turned out to be a 72-pound mahseer when I lifted it out of the shallows and carried it up the cobble beach for him forty minutes later; mine, the one I had hooked a minute or so before his, a “mere” 41-pounder, landed in quickish fifteen, was already on a stringer in the margins, waiting for a photograph before release. That’s how good the Pancheswar fishing was.

    Morris’s home waters, the wonderful upper reaches of the River Ganges, were fast going the “dammed” way of Pancheswar back then, hence his visits to the Mahakali-Surju junction every Himalayan spring. Post-monsoon autumns were terrific at Pancheswar too, but so were the Ganges autumns, still, back then, so we fished those. There’s a 47-minute TV film of me on YouTube somewhere, fishing those waters in September 1989 and catching a few.

    Only fish, I know, counting for little when set against power for the hundreds of millions of people on the north Indian Plains below, but I still can’t help thinking to myself “Yet….”.

    1. Pancheshwar is probably one of the last remaining spots for specimen sized Mahseer up hear in North India. We have been fishing here for over 10 years and this location has produced some incredible fish. Over the years even the locals have realised the importance of catch and release and in the last couple of years, this fisheries has produced excellent results. Gone are the days of excessive poaching and dynamiting. I know the local boys personally and even the Holy man. They have done an incredible job in trying to conserve this Golden Mahseer. Unfortunately, all this might have been in vain. Once the dam is built this area ( the confluence and village Pancheswhar) will be under water. The Mahseer migration (which happens in the monsoons) will be deeply impacted and effect on the species will be massive. The Bhakra Nangal and pong dam are a prime example. I hope this project for whatever it is worth does not come up!!

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