Over the last 50 years the government has built 14,000 kilometres of embankments in an attempt to tame the rivers of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Orissa. Despite this massive expenditure, losses due to flooding and the area that is now vulnerable to flooding has increased. 16% of Bihar is now permanently waterlogged, a direct consequence of the construction of embankments.''River Taming Mantras' explores the technological, economic and political rationale that underlies the adoption of such flood control measures. The film argues that because these rivers carry an enormous silt load, they have enormous power. Attempts to control these rivers are unlikely to succeed. On the other hand, the vast sums spent on the building and maintenance of these embankments provides endless opportunities for the siphoning of funds. Ultimately, it is the poor people who suffer - migrating to other states, towns and cities in search of food and shelter.
Released on: 2004