Skip to main content

Failure of big dam model? 36% of India's big dams in Maharashtra are of "little help" in Marathwada drought

By Our Representative
Senior environmental activist and water expert Himanshu Thakkar has said that the current drought in India should clear the misconception that drams are a panacea for water scarcity. In an interview with a top business daily, Thakkar has insisted, “Big dams have proved to be a failed water resources development model.”
“The first thing that strikes you about Maharashtra is that it has, by far, the highest number of big dams in India. According to the National Register of Large Dams of the Central Water Commission, of the total number of 5,100 big dams 1,845 are in Maharashtra”, Thakkar, who with the South Asian Network on Rivers, Dams and People (SANDRP), said.
“So about 35 to 36 per cent of all big dams in India are in the state. Yet Maharashtra is in the headlines for drought and water scarcity today. While nationally, 46 per cent of cropped area is irrigated, in Maharashtra the figure is hardly 18 per cent”, he added.
Even Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, in his Assembly speech on July 21, 2015, admitted that farmers need irrigation, not dams, and dams are not the only means to achieve irrigation, Thakkar said.
Suggesting that the Maharashtra government has failed to understand this reality, Thakkar said, “Parts of Maharashtra are facing multiple agrarian and hydrological crises this year. Rainfall deficits have been as high as 40 and 42 per cent in the last two years in Marathwada.”
“In some districts and blocks the figure is even higher. So rain-fed kharif crops in many parts have failed for the last two years. The rabi crops were also hit by unprecedented hailstorms in 2014 and 2015. The 2016 rabi season has been hit by unusually dry conditions”, he added.
Pointing out that during the 2015 monsoon, he and his Pune-based colleague Parineeta Dandekar realised in mid-July that this year was going to be a crisis for most of Maharashtra, in addition to some other adjoining areas, Thakkar said, “We wrote to the chief minister in August that the state needed to take certain measures urgently.”
The measures included “stopping the diversion of about three billion cubic metres of water from the Bhima and Krishna basins to the high-rainfall Konkan area, stopping non-essential water-use activities, taking stock of available water and deploying it for priority needs, and so on”, he said.
Yet, Thakkar noted, “The Maharashtra government did not wake up to this situation then or at the end of the monsoon or even now”, adding, the state government's Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyaan doing “deepening, widening and straightening of rivers”, cannot be a “fig leaf to hide its incompetence in handling this crisis.”
“In Marathwada and western Maharashtra (similarly, also northern Karnataka) sugar cane cultivation on about four to five per cent of cropped land takes up about 70 per cent of available irrigation water”, Thakkar said, adding, “We have been saying that considering the rainfall, weather situation and water availability, sugarcane is not a sustainable crop in these regions.”
Yet, he added, “Even when 2014 and 2015 monsoon had major deficits in Maharashtra, the area under sugarcane remained at record levels. This was after the 2012 drought in Maharashtra, when the same issues had cropped up and the government, including the then Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar promised intervention. We saw no implementation of those promises then. The situation is the same now.”

Comments

Dams without proper water resources are meaningless.

TRENDING

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

How US is using Tibetans to provoke conflict with China 'ignoring' India

By Lobsang Tenzin*  On July 12, US President Joe Biden signed the Resolve Tibet Act, and Tibetans cheered for it, believing that the law promotes a resolution of the dispute between Tibet and China. Is this true? First, let's look at the issue of the ownership of Tibet. 

Over 3.8 billion animals at risk: India on crossroad in animal welfare practices

By Rupali Soni*  In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra have unveiled their report , "Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India." This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India's socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.