Dr. Latha Anantha (1966 – 2017)

 

“What drives me is not the politics, or the thrill of taking leadership in something. What drives me is that the river has to flow. A flowing river, for me, is a source of energy, spirit and inspiration to go on…It’s the river that drives me. Nothing else.”

– Dr. Latha Anantha

The name Dr. Latha Anantha and rivers of India can be synonymously used, as her life was deeply embedded and intertwined with the flows of the rivers, till her last breath. She founded the River Research Centre at Thrissur, Kerala with the following ideology and mission:

“We view the river basin as the basic geographic, cultural, social and ecological unit for any development. Most of the present problems related to water scarcity, inequity in sharing natural resources, conflicts over resource use and exploitation of natural resources is due to the lack of holistic vision of a participatory river basin level resources conservation, development and management. Our mission is to try to understand the present scenario of river basin level resources development and management being followed, it’s inherent flaws and goodness, analyze the problems and possible consequences, evolve corrective measures through research based campaigns and advocacy, intervene at policy level and help people to take the right decisions on the long term sustenance of their river basins to avoid further degradation.”

She was an internationally recognized expert in the environmental flows (e-flows) which deals with the investigation of the complexities of the amount of water required to sustain a river. Please watch the following talk by her on e-flows.

 

Her efforts through River Research Centre and Chalakudy Puzha Samrakshan Samiti was successful in preserving the Athirappilly waterfalls from damming. Apart for working for Chalakudy River, she has involved in development of education program on importance and preservation of environment for children. Apart from this she has worked several issues of wildlife, biodiversity, etc. But her primary focus was rivers.

Parineeta Dandekar remembering Dr. Latha Anantha, after her demise on November 16 2017 and a long struggle with cancer, wrote that Dr. Latha used to tell her that

“You need one particular river. Work on all the rivers of world, but have that one river to go back to.”

Apart from being a scientist and a scholar, she was a people’s person who was worked with the communities at grassroots level. Even if she is no more amongst us, but she has left behind a treasure of knowledge of working for the rivers.

Articles about Dr. Latha Anantha and her work

https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/dr-latha-anantha-cpss-and-river-research-centre-for-the-rivers-to-flow/

https://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/433-2

https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/12/16/remembering-latha/

https://aidindia.org/scholar-and-protector-of-rivers-latha-anantha-1966-2017/

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/latha-anantha-the-agricultural-scientist-who-fought-for-unhindered-flow-of-rivers-59145

 

[In the Image: Dr. Latha with her friends at Athirappilly Falls. Photo: Parineeta Dandekar (Image Source: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/dr-latha-anantha-cpss-and-river-research-centre-for-the-rivers-to-flow/)]
News Reporter
I am an architect turned anthropologist. After finishing my Masters in Anthropology from University of Pune, I was working with Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune under a project funded by UNICEF and Integrated Child Development Scheme, Government of Maharashtra. During which I was stationed in Nandurbar District of Maharashtra (which is predominantly a tribal region) as a Field Research officer. Currently, I am a doctoral candidate in Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali, India. My current research explores the interaction of the cultural-religious, the political-economic and the ecological dimensions of the river in Nashik city in Maharashtra. Broadly, investigating how the multiple perspectives of a natural resource overlap, contradict, challenge and support each other, thus shaping the urban landscape and producing socio-spatial inequalities.

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