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Quickly and efficiently the trout were cleaned and we settled down to a feast of fried and smoked trout ... More

A Dodo

For a million bucks*
*( in the currency of your choice)

If I can find someone to put up the million bucks ,
can you help find the Dodo ?

I know this sounds like I'm pulling one over you.. as some sort of joke or prank conjured out of the depths of my underworked mind , a disease borne from too much trout angling on the Tirthan. ….Ah for an evening on a white rock over one of the larger pools watching the trout jump and feed off the surface with your own line going taut every now and then…

But no such luck… it's true. Like the dodo , the pure, untouched glacial melt rivers and streams of Himachal will soon be extinct. We have lost the Sainj , the Parbati , the Beas , Uhl , to name a few and there are even reports of poor fishing this year in Sangla on the Baspa , a stretch that we, not long ago ,considered one of the best.

All these to mindless , ugly , incongruous power projects

A visit to any of these sites is like a slap in the face. A silted brown river , gouged hillsides, loads of trucks laden with dirt and attitude, teeming masses of migrant labour setting up their jhuggis and shitting out the banks , being welcomed, fed and bedded by short sighted locals setting up ramshackle chai shops and std booths. There are countless documentaries, photos, first hand and newspaper reports of avalanches , landslides and hillsides unable control the ferocity of a cloudburst or even a good monsoon downpour..

Nature can be cruel and exacting and will have its revenge.

In the name of Economic Progress.

Progress? My Ass! These are no Ambani - Reliance type of projects aiming to bring cheaper light and power to the masses…to hell with the masses…not even to the locals…Himachal is a major producer of electricity and we pay 1 Re a unit for a domestic connection that is worth even less due to erratic voltage and poor distribution. It just isn't worth it selling the power to the local. He can't or won't pay enough for it. No It must go to those that can and will pay.. in the cities with offices and airconditioners and microwaves and what not … to a demanding consumer , ready and willing to pay more for less… this economic fact lies in the price per unit on your power bill in the cities. Domestic or Commercial.
This is not to say that I wish to up a finger at cityfolk and their airconditioners, microwaves ,neon lights and multiplexes.. they need these things, what else have they got.. but have faith …modern economics and science will ensure that they do. Someone, somewhere will surely find a better way than tearing up a river. It's only a matter of cash.
These projects themselves are shortlived , aimed at recovering the investment and a heap more and getting the hell out before the whole damn thing gets clogged in mud and silt Sort of akin to slash and burning agriculture. The project at Ladhak has closed or is closing and a drive past Pandoh in the winter will show islands of silt in the middle of the reservoir. The Chinese project on the Satluj almost washed us out this monsoon.
The damn things will get buried.. and probably sooner than later.
And a lot more else will go under with it

And while we're on the topic of economics, what is the commercial value of a tiger at Sariska or Corbett, an oversized rhino or a skinny legged Siberian crane. Maybe we should sell the more robust to prop up the Chinese libido and stick the rest in a circus where they can earn a living while on our planet. And then let the builders into the reserves.

But jokes aside.. If I arranged for the guy with the million bucks will you help find the dodo?

We have a dodo.

Well it's not exactly a dodo but will be missed as much…. maybe even more.

The Tirthan is one of the last of the streams to be touched . That is not to say that the predators have not been after it. It is being held in tenuous protection by a disorganized group of concerned individuals , the efforts of our 80 year old ex MLA Shabaab Sahaab ( almost all the credit for the current standoff goes to him) and other weak excuses like it's status as a stream with religious significance . That last argument is not saving the Parvati. from going under.
Well all is not lost. The current Congress Government at the centre and at the state level is ostensibly green minded and has put a hold on all projects on this part of the river . This is OK for now but is peppered with political inconsistency and might change at any time. Meanwhile the predators remain at the door , wolves dressed in sheep's clothing , making promises and assurances , buying into and settling in little pockets among shortsighted locals. We are aware of this and are looking to strengthen our protection by organizing ourselves together and squaking out loud hoping someone will hear us and put a stop to this madness. If you can't do something to immediately chase away the predators permanently then just squak with us and help us raise a din enough to permeate the corridors of those with such power. Maybe together we will keep this dodo alive. If we care enough.

What you can do ?

  1. Use the power if you have it. You have our blessings with you.
  2. Help us be heard . Write an article , hold a demonstration or maybe even just a conversation , think up an idea , make a phone call to someone who has the power. Maybe just forward this mail or compose one yourself.
  3. Send us a donation. I will forward all these to Shabaab Sahaab to cover expenses in his running up and down to Simla and Delhi in his efforts to keep the standoff as it is and eventually maybe evict the predator. He does provide a receipt for such contributions.
  4. Provide legal and logistic support in case the predator does actually manage to enter and we have to suddenly raise a PIL or try for a stay order.
  5. Shut the windows and jack up the airconditioner , put your nose to the grind to save enough to go trout angling in Scotland or the Rockies. Might even get some shopping done. Screw the Himalayas.
  6. Nothing. What's to be done. Hang up the old fishing rod ,line and tackle. Life is a bitch. Shit happens Like losing your teeth or growing bald. Hair today gone tomorrow.

It's about more than just recreational angling like Project Tiger is about more than just jeep safaris

See you on the river till as long as we can hold it. We're waiting for the water to clear from the monsoon ( about a week ) and then expect the fishing to be damn good… as usual.

Footnote : The Himachal government has since decided not to put up any power projects on the the Tirthan up from Larji and has earmarked the Tirthan for tourism purposes includuing angling.

Contact us at christophermitra@hotmail.com

Created by Manav Agarwal

Joint controller Daniel Abraham (Retd)