Pani Pahar Toby Smith
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Pani, Pahar: Waters of the Himalayas

Pani, Pahar: Waters of the Himalayas, a collaborative research project led by Fitzwilliam Fellow Professor Bhaskar Vira and Dr Eszter Kovacs of the Department of Geography, explores the changing landscapes and escalating water crises of the Himalayas.  

The project was produced in collaboration with The Centre for Ecology Development and Research in India (CEDAR) and the Southasia Institute of Advanced Studies in Nepal (SIAS), and combines academic research with contemporary imagery by photojournalist Toby Smith.

Pani, Pahar shows how environmental and social changes are impacting the ways in which small towns throughout the region source and distribute water. The research has tried to understand the connections between changes in land-use and management that impact on the water-bearing capacity of landscape in these mountainous regions, and the availability of water. The interdependence of people and ecological processes across these incredible landscapes creates a complex and fascinating story in which sustainable development must be realised.

Four different themes emerged from the study:

  • change and transformation around water sources;
  • the growing visibility and rapid pace of urbanisation;
  • the ebbs, flows and characteristics of seasonality that affect both social and ecological systems; and,
  • the ways in which physical, social and political infrastructures are being built, transformed and consolidated at this time of rapid change. ​

These themes were all artfully captured by photojournalist Toby Smith, whose photos are currently on display in the Jor Bagh Metro Station in New Delhi (16 March - 29 June) and the India Habitat Centre, also in New Delhi (6 April - 6 May), alongside curated archival prints from the University Library and Centre for South Asian Studies as part of Pani, Pahar’s itinerant photographic exhibition.  

Photo credits: Toby Smith | @tobysmithphoto

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