GUWAHATI, March 2 - The crucial link of rivers and other water bodies with the life of common people and their cultures occupied the centrestage today on the first day of a three-day workshop on environmental justice, ecological economics and water infrastructure in the North East in relation to hydropower and waterways held at the Indian Institute of Bank Management (IIBM) here.
The workshop is being jointly organised by the Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflict; Coventry University, UK; Aaranyak, Guwahati; Water Resource Management Group of Wageningen University, Netherlands; Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune; C-PAC of Shiv Nadar University, Uttar Pradesh; IIT Guwahati and the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies and Management, Sikkim University, Gangtok.
One of the organisers of the event, KJ Joy of the Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India, stated that the primary objective of the workshop was to create a space to share common understanding of environmental justice among academicians and activists.
The workshop also aims at evaluating the national waterways, interlinking rivers as well as hydropower issues in the eastern Himalayan region, besides engaging students in exercises to formulate water policy and water justice-related approaches, among others.
Vimal Khawasm of Sikkim University underlined the significance of introducing environmental justice syllabus in the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, while Shripad Dharmadhikary of Manthan, who worked as an activist in the Narmada Bachao Andolan, pleaded for the forum playing an important role on the impact of sharing waterways in the North East.
Abraham Samuel, a renowned researcher from Maharashtra, pleaded for leading the discourses on environmental justice to ascertain �water justice�.
The discussion also pointed towards regional institution capacity building in both domestic and external space as mentioned by Nimmi Kurian, researcher from the Centre for Policy Research.
Gyotso Lepcha, an activist from Sikkim, spoke on the resistance struggle in his State against the practice of waste disposal in rivers by pharmaceutical companies. He also called for a river policy.
During the second half, the discussion was primarily on hydropower-related issues in the North East region by Vimal Khawas.
Keshab Krishna Chatradhara spoke on hydroelectric projects in the North East and their probable impact on vulnerable communities.
Dr Partha J Das of Aaranyak highlighted the history of movements against large dams in Assam, which mainly grew during 2001-02.
During 2000, a group of people started the movement when they came across a map of hydropower dams proposed on almost 200 rivers of the North East. According to Das, the process of sanctioning large hydropower projects during that time was completely based on theory, which led to apprehension among the people about their adverse impact on the environment and economy.
The last session was hosted by Kurian on the topic �Northeast, borderland and environmental justice�.