River Rafting is a sport which has high speed water current as its first pre-requisite. Hence rivers and ocean which have strong currents are chosen as the rafting sites. The rapids that form in the rivers decide how much challenging the rafting will be. The importance of rivers is thus highlighted and is indisputable.
There are many vast rivers as huge as the oceans which provide with the best rafting experiences to the rafters. But these rafting sites are in danger. Dams are being built on these rivers as a result of which we are losing out on a lot of good rafting sites. Dams are a hindrance to this amazing sport because it reduces the flow of the river at times when reservoirs are full and make it too deep at other points when water is released. In both cases, dams make the stretch inaccessible and even cut back the rafting season.
A documentary by the name “A Dam Shame” has been made to highlight the soon to be lost rafting site due to the construction of Bujagali Dam project. Marshyangdi River rafting which starts from Nagdi in Lamjung is a wonderful site for rafting for two days. This site has river Grade IV and V between the months of October and December and Grade IV+ begins between Februarys to April. The sad part is that even this place has lost much of its charm after the construction of a dam on the rive Marshyangdi. Also the construction of a hydro project has severely affected kayaking in Marshyandi, and now it is possible to have a two day trip on the rapids before reaching the dam.
No rafting takes away the fun and pleasure only that game can provide but it also puts several people who earn their livelihood by being associated with the sport in a state of anxiety. Several sports tourism companies are affected by the closure of rafting sites. In India alone, if the dams are constructed at this pace, the first to fall will be the 40-odd adventure firms that organize rafting expeditions.
Spokesperson for Adventure Sports Association of India shares similar views about dam construction on the mighty Ganga, “The professional stretch on the Alakananda River has reduced considerably making rafting difficult. There is also an obvious threat that the Shivpuri area could become inaccessible with two new dams coming up upstream and on tributaries. This is a pity because the Ganga is the best rafting river in India and now firmly on the world rafting map.”
The government’s attitude towards this matter is cold as they insist that the dams are not to control the flow of the rivers significantly. If they are to be believed we might as well have to wait for the dams to be constructed and see the consequences first hand. But maybe by then it will be too late to do anything because the damage will have already been done. Whatever the scenario, loosing out on some of the world’s best rafting sites cannot go amiss.