Thalli Godavari, part of belief and folklore for millions of people for ages, is now fast changing. Godavari as Varadha Godhaari, Perntaalapalli, Kondamodalu, abode of Koya and Konda Reddy adivasis, Rampa tribal revolts under Alluri Seetarama Raju, Nelakota Gandi Pochamma, numerous streams and historical- religious villages and long trails of Gotthi Koyas from Bastar forests trekking every season for coolie works in mirchi and tobacco fields are images of Godavari etched in the minds of generations of people. It is one part of the story.  

There is a new face emerging because of Polavaram Dam. Godavari as life for people and as a space of might for the State. New faces of Godavari, sacred and profane, one that is of people and belief and one that is a site and commodity for traders. Godavari that is life and tradition and one that is being dammed and damned. Two faces of mighty Godavari river. Now also an ‘item’ for consumption

The Threat of Polavaram Dam has  has added new face to Godavari. Fear of damming the mighty river has given rise to ‘special shows’ of riverscape and all that is part of three hundred and more villages with every inch of the vast stretch of forests, river and hills and valleys that is habitat of the Koya people and part of national heritage and belief system. But that is going to be lost with damning in progress where the government is directed by interests of contractors than science or cultural values or norms of democratic governance.

There is rush to catch glimpse of Godhaari thalli. Tourism focused on ‘giving last chance to see river timeless  pristine godavari has special trips, ‘record dance’ and all that of a fun and profitable business. Adds empty bottles and wrappers, disposables and filth on the riverbed. Conflict of life and profit. They ask “Bangaaru katthi ani meda kosukontamaa?” (would you like to cut your throat because the knife is made of gold). And simply they reject the damning project. Illiterate adivasis do not know to negotiate with the challenge.

A telling commenting on the changing face godhaari is the report by Uma Maheswari. I am sure it adds to the growing understanding on the destruction of ecology and people in the name of Polavaram dam.   

JOURNEYA tale of two rivers 

The Godavari has an intrinsic bond with the lives being lived on its shores. It can also be made invisible, a conduit for tourism. Overseeing the transition is the Polavaram dam. R. UMA MAHESWARI 

The two journeys reflected the difference between people’s commerce and that of the State, in league with exploitative private profiteers 

That was a different time, a different Godavari, a different flow and a different “movement”. It was languorous, as if time stopped by, for absorbing each moment of the flow. It was in June last year, one’s first trip across this stretch of the Godavari (incidentally, the second longest river of India, running to around 900 miles) in Andhra Pradesh. It had poured the previous night and still smelt of earth after first drops of rain and a mild breeze blew. It was 3 a.m. when I stepped on to the luggage carrier launch (a medium sized steamer), or “laanchi” in local parlance, at the “laanchila revu” in Rajahmundry. I sat on the deck amidst an assortment of goods — groceries, vegetables, fruits, cardboard cartons and so on. (మరింత…)

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