Peaceful Dam Protest Turns Bloody in Arunachal Pradesh India

A message from Roland Stevenson.

The world's third largest river system and the bread basket of well over 100 million people in North East India and Bangladesh is in jeopardy. Please consider the following incident from last week.

I apologize for the graphic images, but there is bad news coming out of Roing, Arunachal Pradesh, where the Dibang meets the Brahmaputra. Students who were organizing against the dam hearings were inaccurately labeled as Maoists. During the Durga Puja two days ago police shot at them. Below are some disturbing pictures sent to me following a Freedom of Information Release by one of the human rights lawyers we're working with to oppose the dam. Luckily there were no fatalities.

This month there are many hearings scheduled on dams in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, including the large Siang and Dibang dams. We set up operations near the Siang five years ago to train locals in river-tourism practices that are economically viable alternatives to dams, while predicting this issue would come to a head. Large portions of the population are against the dams, but they are being pushed through by a powerful private company. Many have said that the dam company, Jaypee, is buying out political and police leaders to subdue opposition, and that is certainly the feeling in Roing.

Please share and/or cover this if you can. Let me know if I can help to answer any questions or put you in touch with our people.

Roland Stevenson

Maoist labeling of students, some were of high-school age:

And a link quoting the CM of Assam as labeling the protesters as "left wing extremists" rather than the legitimate, peaceful protesters that they are.

Sunil's Message:

Dear All,

Please find enclosed FIR, injured photos of victim,list injured,
presently victims are admitted at Dibrugarh and treatment going on .
Please see more detail in dibangnews.com, and the
standardtribunal.blogpost. Roing police under the head of Veenu Basal
and his wife Deputy Commissioner using police force and they were
provoking public in different occassion to take action against the
youth and public. Some months back police issued fake media report
alleging that moaist has been working with anti-dam groups. Linking
up some underground and wanted to sabotage the people’s movement
against the dam activist and to get the public hearing done which is
fixed on 24 Oct 2011. The public hearing is being protested and was
cancelled ten times. The same tactics were condemned by the public at
public meeting. Now this tactics paved off and unarmed student
present in the puja pandal were shot, by chasing them.After the
shooting incident, SP tried to enter the hospital but was not allowed,
he blank fired.

Hope strong action against police and magistrate

Any other documents required let me know

With regards
Advocate and HR activist

Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh


Expedition Mambucaba

Finally after two weeks of extended meetings and film showings in Brazil, the real objective of our trip to Brazil is directly infront of us. I know what you must be thinking, and no Carnival is still 5 months out. For Chris Korbulic, Pedro Oliva, and I the real point of our annual reunion in Brazil has always been based on the next big river descent.

Unlike previous years where we have been traveling to the far ends of this massive country; this time around, our destination is located precisely between the two largest cities in Brazil if not in the world: Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro. Brazil coast hems in a sizable portion of the South Atlantic Ocean and for much of that the Serra do Mar or Sea Mountains rise up from the coast line appearing in Rio de Janeiro as the iconic Sugar Loaf and other granite massives. In fact further down the coast towards Sao Paulo these mountains form the largest costal land form in brasil extending 40 miles into the interior and peaking out over 6000 feet in elevation giving rise to sizable river whose main stem drops 4000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean in just 20 miles: the Rio Mambucaba.

Luckily for Brazil and the outside world this one of a kind watershed has been completely protected from deforestation and pollution. Unluckily for Kayakers there is limited access and what little access is available is restricted by a National Park designation not so different from our Yellowstone. So it is good to have friends in Brazil that know how to pull this mission off and not get thrown in federal prisson.

In fact Pedro was a part of the team that made the first and only descent of the Mambucaba 5 year's ago following such kayaking visionaries as John Grace, Pat Keller, Andrew Holecombe, Jason Hale, and not to mention Emmy award winning cinematographer Ryan McPherson. But by all accounts it was a nasty portaged filled affair with the vast Majority of the 72 hour descent spent climbing through some of the densest jungle on earth and running from hummingbird sized Wasps.

So why go back? Well for one thing we are here at the end of the dry season and the river should be as tame as it is ever going to get. But really this is one of those opportunities to experience a place that time and progress has left behind; which in theory; is worth a few days of suffering.... I will let you know.


Ben Stookesberry


Into 2nd Deepest Canyon in North America

At the end of September 2010. Rafa Ortiz, Chris Korbulic, Daniel Migoya and I stood at the brink of one of the most beautiful and daunting canyons in Mexico. In fact according to the guy who is literally writing the whitewater guide book to Mexico, Rocky Contos; there might be only a few rivers in the whole country that would offer the kind of challenge we were about to take on. Situated do west of the tourist Mecca of Mazatlan, and just next door to the south of the monster gorge of the Rio Piaxtla (North America's deepest Canyon), the Rio Presidio is considered to be North America's second deepest river gorge at 7900 feet deep.

Unlike the Piaxtla that Darin McQuoid, Jesse Coombs, James Dusenbery, Rocky Contos, and I first descended in 2009; the Presidio had never been canyoneered before and the majority of a google earth scout was shadowed by a canyon too deep and narrow to be scene from space. Of course the Piaxtla had taught several lessons that would improve the odds of our attempt on the Presidio:

1. Bring twice as much rope as you think you need.
2. Keep a close I on the weather forecasts.
3. Pack enough food for at least 7 nights.
4. There is little or no hope of rescue so the first aid kit should be well appointed.
5. Move quickly through the portages as marijuana plantations are prevalent in the area.
6. Bring enough cameras to capture some of the most spectacular canyon vistas in the world.

From an inconspicuous put-in like some pine covered river on the Colorado Plateau, the Presidio was set to descend some 7000 feet into the core of the Sierra Occidental plateau. With Mexicans Rafa and Daniel on board, we sifted through mountains of local beta about the canyon, only to find a general consensus amongst the locals that our attempt would be met with one danger after the other: "If the scorpions don't get you, than a flash flood will."

But here is the thing. You can't ask or get permission to do a first descent. The question of can you or should you can only be worked out with the canyon and the river while in the act. The only thing we knew for sure while standing at the lonely bridge high on the Rio Presidio in Durango Mexico is that Chris, Rafa, Daniel, and I would try.

An animated retelling of our descent of the Presidio is featured in the January 2011 addition of Outside Magazine. Here is the link to the teaser of the film that I am making from the descent. Stay tuned to jacksonkayak.com for more clips and pics from the Rio Presidio.


Ben Stookesberry