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PREFACE

Rivers provide the most wonderful backdrop for the expression of harmony between the environmental physical processes, the unbroken panorama of life and the everchanging tapestry of cultures. The physical processes of climate, water cycle, weathering of the substratum, land form evolution and life together create a river. Life itself is a continuous stream of change and the adaptation based upon an unchanging core identity and the unvarying purpose of life. The wide spectrum of living forms and their life cycles include the human species as one recent minute entity. Human culture is the collective response to tbis rapidly changing tapestry, their recognition and an expression of gratitude for the ability to survive and much more less definable.

The very roots of human culture has set down deep in the alluvial flood plains of ancient rivers. As development and modernisation influenced basic value systems and human attitudes humankind and rivers parted ways. Rivers were buried under silt and rivers buried the centres of river valley civilisations under mud. Ours was a country which always had a spectrum of vibrant cultures. This has been so because the land was rich. We owe the richness of our land to our rivers big and small, great and obscure. That is why in India we venerated our rivers. Narmada is one of the most sacred of our rivers flowing through the real heartland of the sub continent, far surpassing Ganga or any other river in India in antiquity. According to our beliefs she should never be fettered. We have seen the slow death of other rivers in our land. The tired, exhausted land can no longer support a youthful full river. So the latter also dies prematurely.

We have seen the outright murder of our rivers for short term profit. We have stone walled our rivers or put them in dungeons of concrete. Naturally then, the land and the culture dies. There is no choice. Of course one can dogmatically say that the culture is advancing and is successful. One can find prosperity in the teeming, consuming and squandering urban centres and in the parasitic pollutive short lived industrial centres. But then the ultimate index of success is survival. And this demands the essential conditions for life to continue for all and forever. That is exactly what a living river symbolises.

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