Traditionally, river water quality is looked at in isolation, without understanding its socio-economic cost. As a logical extension of Water-to-Cloud Project, under which researchers at the University of Chicago monitor water quality of several rivers in real time through automated, mobile sensors, the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago collaborated with the Centre for Community Knowledge (CCK) at Ambedkar University and Ashoka University to understand the concerns of the riverine communities and correlate data on water quality with the ground reality.
The event, ‘Revitalising Yamuna: Alternate Imaginations’, hosted at the UChicago Center in Delhi on May 11, comprised a photo exhibition, film screening and a panel discussion, along with presentations of research projects.
The CCK at Ambedkar University has been documenting memories, people’s voices, and experiences of the Yamuna river under their project ‘The River and the City’. Their stories were woven together into a 30-minute documentary that brought forth the realities of various riverine communities that associate themselves with the Yamuna. It portrayed myriad understandings and experiences of people as and when they remember the river and points of connection with it or the lack thereof.
The University of Chicago, in collaboration with the Young India Fellows at Ashoka university, had conducted a four-month-long field study to understand the impact of river pollution on health and livelihood of communities living on the banks of Yamuna in Delhi. The results that emerged from this study were presented during the event.
A photo exhibition on People of Yamuna displayed various themes that point to the connections and disconnections between the river and the residents of the city. It put forth how the Yamuna as a water body has changed over time; from its course to pollution load.
The panel discussion on ‘Connections and disconnections between the river and the residents of the city’ witnessed the coming together of experts on sociology, anthropology and biodiversity conservation as well as the riverine communities on the same platform.
The panel, moderated by Surajit Sarkar, Assistant Professor at Ambedkar University, had Neha Sinha, Reema Bhatia, Meeta Kumar, Bhim Singh Rawat and representatives of the communities living along the Yamuna. It deliberated on changes observed in the river over the years and encouraged individuals and communities to reconnect with it.
More event-related photos at our Flickr album.