Case area in India: The Warna River basin


The proposed study location in India is the Warna river basin in Maharashtra State, India. It includes the Warna dam and the Chandoli National Park. The Warna river is a tributary of the larger Krishna river that originates in Maharashtra and flows through three states. The Warna river originates at the extreme western part of Sangli district and meets the Krishna River at Haripur, 3 kms from Sangli city. The Warna basin may be estimated to be approximately 7000 sq km and has an estimated 2001 population of about 191,000. Estimated per capita water availability is high at 3400 m3 but all precipitation is received in a short monsoon from June to September and actual availability is much less.

The basin may be divided into two regions as follows.

A) The catchment area of the Warna
Dam (which includes the Chandoli Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghat) is the area of maximum interest from the point of view of biodiversity and vulnerability. The catchment area of the Warna Dam (which includes the Chandoli Wildlife Sanctuary) is the area of maximum interest from the point of view of biodiversity and vulnerability. The major forest dwelling community in this region is the Dhangar (shepherd) community who have a symbiotic relationship with the people cultivating the land in the area. The Dhangars spend most of their time in the forests with their flocks of sheep and herds of cattle. The region falls within the Western ghats identified as biodiversity hot spot and various organizations have collected biodiversity information throughout the Ghats but unevenly, though some sort of database is now available. Besides climatic factors and environmental degradation, there are three major factors that have an impact on the biodiversity in this area – they are:

i) The Warna dam that has changed the hydrology of the region and has created a problem of displacement.

ii) The Wildlife Sanctuary which ahs also created displacement and vulnerabilities, and

iii) Seismic activity in the region is high and has added to other vulnerabilities. There is a strong civil society movement of the people in the region focused on displacement that also has strong links with the valley portion movements.

B) The valley portion of the basin
This area has a thriving irrigation, though access to irrigation is one of the main problems here and has a strong co-operative movement that has often been cited as a model of agro- industrial development based on dairying and sugarcane. Here problems are mainly related to agro biodiversity brought about by tendencies to mono-cropping, monetisation, intensity of chemical and other inputs and these are the main factors that impact biodiversity as well as livelihood vulnerabilities in the area. Though these are two regions that differ markedly in their economic development, they also share a common cultural, religious and spiritual heritage and this forms a common bond between the two areas. There is common civil society initiative of the people affected by development in both regions, though the focus in both areas is different (displacement effects in the former and unequal access and sustainability issues in the latter) these initiatives promise participation in biodiversity and vulnerability assessments and their further use in bringing about social and economic change in the area.

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