The 12th CSE Media Fellowships: Water Bodies in India : Public Space, private design

August - October, 2011

This fellowship was supported by Jamshedji Tata Trust

After land, our water bodies are now facing tremendous stress: industries, urban 'development', increasing population, imperfect legislation... scores of wetlands, lakes, rivers and waterways are threatened by such projects and pressures.

On one hand, cities across India struggle to meet the insatiable water demands of their people; on the other, real estate and industry are eyeing wetlands and water bodies, while regulators look the other way. According to the Directory of Asian Wetlands (1989), India has 27,403 wetlands,covering an estimated area of 4.1 million hectare. A survey by the Wildlife Institute of India says they are disappearing at a rate of 2 per cent to 3 per cent every year. Some of the recent cases of transgression include the Nirma cememt factory in Bhavnagar, Gujarat and an upcoming power plant in Kakrapalli, Andhra Pradesh.

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) rolled out a media fellowship to journalists to address, analyse and report on this subject. Some of the suggested topics were:

  • Encroachments on wetlands and water bodies

  • Conflicts and people's struggles

  • Regulations pertaining to water management and use

  • Classification of wetlands

  • Biodiversity

  • Livelihoods and water

  • Wetland banking

  • pollution

We received 62 applications from all across the country and the media fraternity, out of which 11 fellows were shortlisted. The shortlisting was done by a jury comprising of internal and external subject matter experts and senior media The jury comprised of

Mr MK Venu, editor, Financial Express, Delhi
Mr Pranjal Sharma, Executive Editor, Bloomberg UTV, Delhi
Mr Navin Joshi, Editor, Hindustan, Lucknow
Ms Sunita Narain, Director General, CSE, Delhi
Mr Richard Mahapatra, Editor, Down to Earth, Delhi

Fellows :-


Bhoomika Kalam

Special Correspondent
People's Samachar, Bhopal

Bhoomika wanted to research and publish a series of articles in People’s Samachar on the following:-

a) Bhopal, known as the city of lakes, is ideally located for harvesting and storing water. But today, the only remnant of this lake paradise is the 'Upper Lake' or Bhoj Tal. She will do a story/stories on the pollution, encroachments and a host of other problems which has put this lake under tremendous stress.
b) If any initiatives are being planned against the encroachments on the catchment area of the lake, and to save the catchment from further degeneration.
c) Investigate and do a story/stories on why Bhopal needs to invest in diverting water from the distant Narmada river, instead of spending money in cleaning up its own lakes?

People's Samachar .jpg

People's Samachar Devas .jpg



Haroon Mirani
Senior Correspondent
Kashmir Newz, Srinagar

Haroon will research on and publish a series of articles in Kashmir Newz on the following:

a) History of the water chestnut industry and how it blossomed in Kashmir, The story will document the pathetic condition of water chestnut gatherers, how they have been by-passed by development.
b) The dying Wullar – The story/stories will include the unique character of the lake and how it regulates the sensitive ecology of the Kashmir Valley; the rampant encroachment, increasing pollution levels and officialdom’s initiatives in tackling the situation; the decreasing flora and fauna; and the status of the Rs 120-crore package to save the Wullar.
c) Wullar Lake continues to be under curfew, and this affects the livelihoods of the water chestnut gathering community. A series of stories on the Wullar looking at various aspects in terms of its socio-economic benefits hindered by the current political situation in the region.




Nikhil Agarwal
PTI, Kolkata

Nikhil will research on a series of articles to be published through PTI on the following :-

a) How the local tribes, who once used to kill ‘Sangai’, the rare species of deer surviving in and on the Loktak, have now turned its protectors. The threat to them, however, remains from the shrinking size of ‘phumdis’ or the floating biomass.
b) The threats to birds and waterfowl due to increasing pollution in the lake. Their numbers have been declining at an alarming rate. Will focus on the reasons of the decline.
c) How the youth has been successfully involved in protecting the Loktak Lake.
d) Take Thanga Island (located inside the wetland) as a case study and try to understand how the anthropogenic pressure is affecting the health and longevity of the lake. The focus will be on pollution as the critical issue.
e) The issue of encroachment all around the lake, how it is affecting the lake and what is the government doing about it.



Pankaj Singh
Senior Staff Reporter
Hindustan, Bareilly

Pankaj research on and publish a series of articles to be published in Hindustan on the following story ideas, concentrating on the areas of Shahjahanpur and Bareilly:-

a) Bareilly has over 400 industries, especially some of the polluting industries such as zari units, which are run as small-scale factories from homes. These have no systems or arrangements for treating the water they use, ending in the river/water bodies untreated.
b) There are some large scale industries also which are using groundwater rampantly on one hand, and discharging the wastewater into the neighbouring water bodies on the other. Due to this, the Ramganga and 13 more smaller rivers in this region are seriously threatened.
c) The Parsakheda industrial area near Bareilly has the Pepsico refilling plant and other large units, which discharge chemical wastes that pollute water sources.



Pulin Kalita
Senior sub-editor
Dainik Asam, Guwahati

Pulin has publish a series of articles in Dainik Asam. He has focused on Deepor Beel, Taranga Beel and Panidihing Bird Sanctuary on the following :-

a) Pollution of the Deepor Beel affecting the biodiversity and the livelihood of the people.
b) The conflicts between the conservation authorities and general people who were/are dependent on the water body
c) Industrial pollution in Taranga Beel
d) Prohibitory measures undertaken by the industry and establishment to curb pollution hazards etc
e) Nature and amount of encroachment facing by the wetland
d) A story around the political economy of the encroachment around the beels as well as a story on the industrial growth around beels was suggested by the jury.

See the articles

Dainik Asam Alengaidi Aru pdf

Charai Nathaka Pakkhi Abhyaranya(1) pdf

Dainik Asam, Udyoge Karhi Lole pdf

Dainik Asam.pdf

Deeparot pradusan Doitya.pdf

Dichang Noir Shihu.pdf

Pokadol Patharot Etia.pdf

Pokadol Patharot Etia-1.pdf



K Rajendran
Deputy news editor
Kairali TV, Trivandrum

Rajendran will telecast a documentary on Kairali TV. He wants to focus on

a) Lakshadweep and the water scarcity in the cluster of islands and do a campaign to spread awareness in the mainland.
b) The key story idea to do with governance -- privatisation of water bodies.
c) Update the public on the status of the governance of the island’s water bodies. Is the government allocating water bodies for industrial purposes, or selling the property of the commons?



Kumar Sanjay
Dainik Jagran, Koderma/Giridih

Sanjay will publish a series of articles in Dainik Jagran about the water bodies in Jharkhand

a) Highlight the current state of water bodies in Jharkhand, with the focus on conflicts emerging between water and ‘development’, and on regulations and laws.
b) sensitise policymakers, implementers, the civil society, beneficiary communities and all stakeholders on issues of water, livelihoods and sustainable development as well as initiatives to save Jharkhand’s decaying water bodies, restore other surface reservoirs and recharge groundwater levels.
c) Assessment of the Jharkhand government’s water-related policies and their effectiveness or/and ineffectiveness. Could you also do a story on the Jharkhand’s regulations and laws on water and water use, especially as a relatively new state vis-a-vis the older states?
d) Discourse on political economy of mega projects vs micro projects and their ecological impacts, and the political ramifications of projects.



Shiba Shankar Nanda
Senior journalist
The Dharitri, Sambalpur

Shiba Shankar will research on and publish a series of articles in Dharitri, concentrating on the water bodies in Odisha

a) A general analysis of the state of such common property resources supported by one or two case studies from villages.  
b) Case studies on successful initiatives to restore common water bodies and the impact of these initiatives.  
c) Tracking down water poverty cases and impacts in rural areas.  
d) Exposing the urban crisis of dying water bodies.
e) Problems related to the current industrial-oriented growth, especially in the mining and industrial areas of western Odisha and what effect it has on water bodies.

Ganadhalu Srikanta
Prajavani, Bangalore

Srikanta will research on and publish a series of articles to be published in Prajavani, focusing on the water bodies of Bangalore.

 a) Analysing the encroachment and pollution scenario of Vrushabhavati and Arkavathi rivers.
 b) Analysing farmer’s health in the Vrushabhavati basin of Byramangala village where because of water contamination, farmers are suffering from skin diseases.
 c) Effect on agricultural activities around the river’s basin and the measures taken to clean the river.
 d) Community-led struggles in retaining and restoring the water bodies.
 e) Case study of school founder (Vagdevi Education Society) who approached the courts to save the Kowdenahalli Gangadharabhatt lake.
 f) The effects of the Conservation and Management Scheme on lifestyles and agriculture practices.

g) The Jury is also keen that you write a story on the Damasha system of water sharing and the citizen's action to save the water bodies.


Sunil Kumar
Senior Reporter
The New Indian Express, Kochi

Sunil will publish a series of articles to be published in The New Indian Express, focusing on the following places -- Thrissur district, Kuttanad and Aluva and write on the following issues:

a) Urbanization leading to depletion of rivers and other water bodies.
b) Lack of implementation of regulations -- marshy lands being levelled and reclaimed
c) Industrial pollution impacting the Periyar river
d) Indiscriminate and illegal sand mining in the rivers.