The Ramganga multipurpose project, from the point of view of the government, is an eminently successful project. However, from the date of its commissioning in 1974 the government of India reports declare that it has been fulfilling its stated objective.
Kalagarh Dam was to bring an area of 5.90 lakh hectares under irrigation, control floods downstream, supply 5.5 cumecs to Delhi. Therefore, generate 451 million units of power annually.
A data-based examination of each objective and whether it has actually been met by the project is outside the scope of this article. However, this presents the stories of people whose experience of the dam differs substantially from the ‘official’ version.
These histories of Dam were gathered during several rounds of surveys and interviews with people living along the Ramganga at Kalagarh and Harewali.
Kalagarh is where the main storage dam of the Ramganga river valley project is located. The people of Kalagarh have only one reaction when it comes to the river- fear. Deveshwari Devi of Kalagarh described the situation of the people of her town as ‘The dam has brought us no benefits, only losses. Dia tale andhera. It is always darkest beneath the flame.’
Sources & Diversions of Water in Dam
The Harewali Barrage impounds the water let down by Kalagarh dam and diverts it to the Khoh river. From there it is taken to the Upper Ganga canal system. Confusing, isn’t it? This confusion pales in front of the upside-down river cycle.
Timings of Dam
From 15 November to 15 June, the barrage gates are closed. At that time the people’s farmlands are flooded. This effectively does away with the Rabi and summer crop seasons. What is left is paddy cultivation. Which is done during the Kharif season. And even that is at the mercy of the Dam gods. Mostly the dam authorities do not open the dam gates till long after the scheduled 15 June date.
This means that the farmers lose out on the sowing period. Similarly, often the gates are closed before the middle of November, which means that they lose the harvest.
Fishing is no longer as per the migratory cycle of the fish, but as per dam releases. When Kalagarh opens its gates, the fish from the reservoir are washed downstream. They are only to be trapped at Harewali. Thus, the fish upstream of Kalagarh are isolated, their breeding rhythms broken.
Fishing & Bird Watching
IJust a generation after the building of the dams, the fishers are already seeing the impact of this isolation of the fish breeding populations. Fish sizes have decreased, and the relative proportions of different species are changing.
This can be attributed to the fact that the dam is flocked with several species of birds that make it an apt site for birdwatching. Wildlife enthusiasts who travel to the national park make it a point to spare some time to visit this place.
An interesting fact about the dam is that its construction continued for 13 long years. After that it finally commenced its operations. If you have a knack for wildlife, visit this attraction in winters. In winters when waterfowl migrate. Above all they migrate to this part of India and can be easily spotted.
The river Ganges has reached the brink of drying. The water in the river was already at the lowest level in the fierce heat. In other words, now the supply of water has been discontinued due to repair work in Kalagarh Dam.
Above everything in the world please save our environment
With this, the tributary of the river Ramganga has not remained even a tenth of normal. Similarly, at present only the rivers and drains of cities and villages are getting dirty and polluted water in the river.
Water Used for Agriculture
The agricultural cycle of the downstream villages of Shahjahanpur and Parmawala is forced to move on a diametrically different level. For these villages the months between June and November are a time of intense floods.
They are well able to live full flows during the ‘chaumasa’, the monsoon. What causes them distress are the unannounced releases prior to and after the chaumasa. The Bhagota residents’ claims that releases outside the scheduled dates cause great damage to crops.
In conclusion, we would say Stop Pollution and Save Water.