Lessons from the Koyna

Not all classrooms have walls. What I learned from Koyna.

Not all life lessons are learnt from the textbook. A lot can be learnt from the environment and from our observations. Also, some lessons must be seeped in to be understood, while some hit you at most unexpected time and places.

One such profound lesson hit me, in the middle of the river Koyna. There I was, swimming in the cool, clear depths of the river, and while contemplating about its history, it hit me that this story could very much be the story of the tribulations and triumphs behind many successful people.

Taking a dip & contemplating about the history of Koyna. Photo credit: Aliasgar Master

The Magnificent Koyna Project:

Let me explain from the beginning. The river Koyna is a tributary of the Krishna river which starts from the Western ghats in Maharashtra, India. From 1955 to 1962, a huge dam, was constructed on the Koyna river, with much fanfare. The majestic Koyna Dam housed the Koyna Hydro-Electric Project (KHP) — the largest hydroelectric power station in India with a total capacity of 1,960 megawatts. The power generation spreads across four stages.

The features of the dam are very interesting and unique. It is an engineering marvel, 2800 feet long, 280 feet high above the riverbed, with 33 floors which has spillways to generate water, irrigate fields and provide drinking water, proudly considered as the lifeline of Maharashtra.

Nafisa & Aliasgar taking a dip in the in the calming Koyna River. Photo credit: Sangram, from the Koyna Adventure Group

Then tragedy struck:

On December 10, 1967, Koyna hit the headlines globally. And it left seismologists shaken. A devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake, killing about 200 people, injuring a few thousand, and causing great damage to the properties and jungles, struck the area, with its epicentre within 5 kms of the Koyna Dam. If I had to ask you to imagine the impact of the earthquake, studies showed it had the power equivalent to the bomb that struck Hiroshima.

Earth scientists believed that the dam and the reservoir had triggered the tremor. Since no seismic activities were previously reported in the area, this was believed to be a ‘triggered earthquake’. The much-applauded darling of Maharashtra was now much- maligned. The game of accusations and finger-pointing began in power circles, resulting in a panic amongst the surrounding villages, and a major fall in property values.

Meet the adventurers – Nafisa and Aliasgar.

Every Setback is a Setup for a Comeback

After things settled down, investigations began, to study the cause and effects of the calamity. The Koyna and its surrounding areas became the most suitable place to study Reservoir Induced Seismicity (RIS), where triggered earthquakes have been occurring in a restricted area of 20×30 sq km.

It emerged as an ideal and natural observatory for earthquake studies, best suited for research to unravel the RIS phenomenon, according to the International Continental Drilling Programme, a group of 30 international and 50 Indian scientists, at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI).

 Earth scientist and seismologist Harsh K Gupta, one of the foremost proponents of RIS, backs his nearly half a century of research proclaiming “In fact, Koyna is the unique example in world to study the Reservoir induced seismic activity, compared to 1200 big dams across the world,” at the ground-breaking ceremony of India’s first Borehole Geophysical Research Laboratory (BGRL) near Karad, Koyna.

Overcome all odds, have patience & have faith. Photo credit: Aliasgar Master

Overcome all Odds:

Koyna tells a story. The story of life; and the story of the trials and tribulations, where each person must face to emerging successful. The story that your launch may be grand, promising, applauded. But tragedies may not be far behind. The fall from popularity is very painful, especially if it has occurred through no fault of yours. At such times, as the Koyna kept quiet during the catastrophe, the best thing may be to face the brickbats, and wait for your time to come.

Have faith in yourself and have patience. This is the biggest lesson I learned from Koyna. Setbacks may occur in life, but if these challenges are faced with courage, faith, and patience, it is very possible, that like the Koyna, we may emerge so strong, to become a major force in helping others to avoid the disaster we endured.

As the Koyna quietly whispered in my ear,” Believe in yourself, and all that you are…know that there is something inside you, that is greater than any obstacle…!

Contributor: Nafisa Shabbir Master

About our Writing Program Student
Nafisa is a Behavioural Psychologist, Neuro Linguistic Master Trainer, and Life Skills Coach. Apart from over 20 years of experience in Corporate Coaching, she also takes time to travel and go trekking. An avid traveller and trekker, Nafisa has trekked to the China, Myanmar and Bangladesh borders. She loves reading, cooking, singing and making friends. She’s happily married and a proud grand mother of four beautiful children.

Please note, pictures taken in the neighbouring area of Koyna as the dam is not open to the general public.

Nafisa’s article made it to the Top Post on IndiBlogger!

The Lifestyle Portal

Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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