Skip to main content

Indian elite diverting water to industry: Result of "flawed" notion that river waters shouldn't go waste into sea

By Rajiv Shah
A top water resources expert, Shripad Dharmadhikary, has said in a recent paper that, taking advantage of a “flawed” policy perspective, continuing since independence, that river waters should not be allowed to “go waste” into the sea, India's powerful elite has been seeking to increasingly divert waters for industrial purpose.
Giving the example of Maharashtra, Dharmadhikary says, in the last several years, the state has “witnessed the diversion of huge amounts of water from irrigation to industry”. He adds, “In the last ten years, the total water diverted annually from irrigation allocation for industry and urban areas is close to 1,900 million cubic meters.”
Formerly with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, and now heading Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh, Dharmadhikary's paper, titled “Value as a Justification in Water Resources Development”, has been published in a new book, “Business Interests and the Environmental Crisis”, edited by two environmental experts Kanchi Kohli and Manju Menon (click HERE).
“According to the government itself, this water could irrigate 2.85 lakh hectates (ha) of land every year”, says the expert, adding, “A significant part of the diversion has been in the area of Vidarbha”, currently suffering one of the worst droughts, leading crop failures, high indebtedness and mass suicides.
“With many large industries lined up, with thermal power capacity of around 90,000 MW lined up, it is clear that that the thirst for water is going to grow”, predicts Dharmadhikary, adding, one should be prepared for such consequences like “concentration of water rights in the hand of the few, the marginalization of farmers, the loss of food security and so on.”
Suggesting that the flawed notion of waters not being allowed to go waste is likely to get a boost with the thinking that there is a need to provide “value” – as understood by a “select group of humans” – to water, the top experts says, the ultimate goal is to reallocate water for “high money producing activities” by bringing water “into the economic-financial set up.”
Giving details of the origin of the flawed concept that waters should not be allowed to go waste, Dharmadhikary says, way back in 1951 a Planning Commission note said that just 5.6 per cent of the country's water resources were being “used for purposes of irrigation”, while the “rest flow waste to the sea.”
The situation did not change in 1969, when Sardar Sarovar Project on river Narmada was floated – the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award repeated the same view, saying the lateral states, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, should be allowed to use water remaining unused after irrigating fields and generating power, lest it “would go waste”.
In the latest interlinking of rivers project, floated by the Government of India, things have not changed either, suggests Dharmadhikary. A National Water Development Agency (NWDA) document says that “flood waters which otherwise run waste into the sea” could be utilized “for transfer to water deficit areas” by interlinking rivers.
According to Dharmadhikary, “The use of water for irrigation is certainly an important and valued use. This is not being disputed. What is disputed is the notion that if the flowing water was not being used for irrigation (or some other specific use like hydropower), then it was being wastes.”
The expert says, “This notion ignored the many other uses of water – some, like fisheries which benefit humans, and others which served the purposes of other life forms maintaining ecology”. By way of example, he points out, how, as a result of the flawed concept,communities living in Narmada (in India) and Indus estuaries (in Pakistan) are becoming increasingly deprived of livelihood, especially fishing.

Comments

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

TN woman's No Caste, No Religion struggle 'follows' ideals of Marx, Ambedkar, Periyar

By Sheshu Babu*
In these days of rising communal tensions, a courageous woman from Tamil Nadu achieved her dream of obtaining 'No Caste, No Religion' certificate through persistent struggle. This is quite a significant achievement. It comes alongside some colleges in West Bengal introducing 'humanity', 'agnostic' , 'secular' or 'non-religious' in the application forms for online submission for students who are unwilling to disclose their faith.

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Modi used to 'run errands' during Emergency, his role was that much: Top JP associate

By Rajiv Shah
In a sharp exposure, well-known Gujarati critic, journalist and activist Prakash N Shah, who had been among the main contact persons of Jay Prakash Narayan (JP) in Gujarat, has recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “merely running errands” during the Emergency (1975-77) period, adding the PM’s stature has been “sought to be unnecessarily inflated”, though adding, he is not saying this to “belittle him.”

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Govt of India 'moves' to hold Assam-type foreigners' tribunals across India, warns report

Counterview Desk
A People’s Tribunal on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has warned in its interim jury report that two recent notifications of the Government of India may lay down the groundwork for triggering an NRC process in different parts of the country, pointing towards recent moves towards this.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk
“Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

New sample suggests high pollution off Vadodara effluent channel, 'requires' action

Counterview Desk 
Gujarat’s top environmental group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) has sharply criticized the Gujarat Pollution Control Board’s (GPCB’s) “on-serious, casual letter” dated September 5, which allegedly suggests that the top state state agency does not favour taking any action Central Gujarat’s effluent treatment plant, Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd (VECL).