Dam-building Boom and Environmental Concerns

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There is incontestable evidence that climate change is human-induced and we have pushed the biodiversity and ecosystem to the brink of destruction through our environmentally disruptive infrastructural development. There is an eccentric relation between the development of humans and nature itself because infrastructural development like dam building leads to environmental modification against nature, which often becomes an existential threat. At one end, the water resource management, specifically the Dams are related to the economic growth, electricity generation, provision of potable water to citizens, irrigation of lands, and provision of jobs, but on the other hand, there can be many unfavourable impacts on people, biodiversity, and environmental ecosystem of our planet. The first most important repercussion of dam building on headwaters is for the downstream ecosystem, which often faces scarcity of water for agricultural use, makes their less fertile, blocks the flow of sediments in the reservoir, and deepens or erodes their riverbeds. In addition to this, the reservoirs can be detrimental for biodiversity as it fragments the valuable habitat and cut off migratory corridors, such as killing the plants and displacing animals. In the worst-case scenario, it can lead to the extinction of aquatic and animal species as well. Similarly, it increases water pollution because the reservoirs trap the fertilizer flowing from the adjacent lands and provide a conducive environment for the growth of harmful algae at the bottom of the dams. Besides, the reservoir of water result in increased water wastage such as through evaporation, and numerous scientific studies support the fact that approx. 7% of freshwater evaporates annually from the dams, which is not the case for the waters flowing in rivers. Although, dams provide us with cleaner energy but there are other alternatives available that are not harmful to the ecological systems, such as in-stream turbines and transitioning to renewable energy sources. With the mounting climatic challenges, nation-states should look for climate-resilient options and put stringent social and environmental assessments at the centre before perusing such options.

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