Rajya Sabha MP and social activist Anil Madhav Dave in an interview with OneWorld South Asia said that the impact of climate change is very severe on the aquatic life of river Narmada.
OneWorld South Asia: What kind of impact do you see of climate change on rivers like Narmada?
Anil Madhav Dave: Defining a river by just the water flowing between the two banks is a very narrow definition. In the true sense, the entire catchment area is a river. The condition of the entire area has deteriorated due to commercial activities like mining, blasting which in turn has reduced the water seepage which is main source of water for the river.
The water level in Narmada in the month of November, last year, was that of what it is usually in the month of May and June. I wonder what would be the level in the latter months.
Narmada does not get its water supply from a glacier, but from the water stored in trees spread across its catchment area. Trees and mountains form the bank of the river where the rainy water gets stored. It is this water which seeps into the river and forms the actual catchment area of the river.
But the human activities have had a severe impact on this catchment area, therefore, during the rainy season there are floods but otherwise the river does not have enough water.
Also, chemicals released in the catchment area aid climate change. Climate change, in near future, will reduce Narmada into a cricket pitch as the river will die due to irresponsible human activities.
OWSA: What impact has climate change left on the farming and fishing communities on the banks of the river Narmada?
Dave: At least fifty types of fishes which were there fifty years ago are now extinct. The impact of climate change is very severe on the aquatic life of Narmada. I got this understanding of the marine loss after talking to tribal people during my ‘choupal’ meetings with them in villages around river Narmada.
Pesticides and chemicals flowing in the river during the rainy season have also made cultivation on the land between the banks and flowing water impossible. This farming served as an additional source of income for fishermen living on the banks of river Narmada.
OWSA: How in your opinion can the state action plan help to arrest the damage which has already happened due to climate change?
Dave: Nations and individuals preach about conservation but fail to keep a check on their individual actions. Positive action is only possible when every individual would take on the challenge of climate change as a personal responsibility and start acting in the right direction.
OWSA: What kind of impact does climate change have on forest and the people whose livelihood depend on forests?
Dave: If we use forests wisely, our efforts could help reverse the climate change impact. We need to leave forests unperturbed and let them grow and spread on their own.
There needs to be a comprehensive assessment of the forests but there should be no further division of forests based on the kind of trees. Every state should have data on forests in their states.
Climate change is having its impact on every living being, be it trees, human beings or animals. The only difference is that it is visible at some places and not so much at other places.