The Death of Kelo River

Community correspondent Savita Rath has spent a decade mired in activism raising her voice against the unjust practices of corporates and the state in the turbulent Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh.

 
Her videos ask a pertinent question: Can the displacement of the people from their land and the destruction of the environment on which they depend be treated as collateral damage in India’s journey towards economic growth?
 
For the past 15 years the Kelo river has been dying a slow painful death. It’s 102 km path has become the dumping ground for a multitude of sponge-iron and coal plants, causing irreversible damage to it. The plants also siphon-off water from the river which originally served around 250 villages.
 
Kelo was the major source of drinking and irrigation water. But since the projects have come up, getting water is a strain especially for the villagers.
 
“Every summer there is a water crisis. We have finally managed to put some pressure on Jindal (Steel Pvt. Ltd.) to organise water. All our other protests however have gone unheard. Time and again the people’s movements have asked for enquiries into the environmental effect of the projects on the river, time and again we have been ignored,” says Savita.
 
With the water polluted, the organism in it are also dying. Savita’s environmentalist friends estimate that at least 6 species of fish from the area have disappeared. The fish, when in abundance, had been a source of livelihood for the villages. Now, they wash up dead on the banks of the river; their rising stench attracts scavengers and diseases of all kinds.
 
“I have given up eating fish,” declares Savita.
 
An article in Down to Earth magazine from1998 , enumerates the problems that were already being caused by the projects on the river. 15 years hence, the river has deteriorated, the people’s anger has grown and yet nothing has changed.
 
Time is not a luxury we have. Help prevent the death of this river.
 
Call to Action:  Please call the District Collector, Mr Amit Kataria on 09425580306 and ask him to stop industries from dumping material in the river.

 

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