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

Political consensus? Celebrations, with over 5,000 plus post-vaccine deaths in India

By Rosamma Thomas*  As India fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its population and celebrated the “milestone” of administering one billion (100 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses, it was time to remember those who died shortly after vaccination . By October 20, 2021 Twitter handle C400T, tracking deaths reported to have occurred after receiving the Covid-19 shot in India, updated the 5,134th death.

Is sacrilege charge against Punjab Dalits any different from Pak blasphemy cases?

Lakhbir Singh, his wife By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  There is no doubt that Sikhism actually was a revolt against the Brahmanical system and superstition. Guru Granth Saheb is perhaps the only Holy Book which contains matters from different religions as well as those of various Sufi saints, including Kabir, Ravidas, Baba Farid and others. The aim of Sikhism was to create an egalitarian society, and, definitely, Punjab that way is far better than many other States in India, where violence against Dalits is rampant.

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Uttarakhand, Kerala disaster due to policies favouring India's developmental mafia

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Two of India’s most beautiful regions where thousands of people go to watch and feel the wonders of nature are suffering because of the extremely disastrous rains and floods. The pain that the rains brought to Kerala and Uttarakhand is a warning to all of us. It's nature’s warning to us to mend our ways.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

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.

Religious mobs replicate blasphemy laws, 'threatening' liberty in a free country

Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh By Ajit Singh*   A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was mercilessly beaten up and lynched to death near farmers’ protest site in the State of Haryana allegedly by Nihang Sikhs. It was alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib.

Shabana Azmi joins Pak physicist Hoodbhoy to condemn B'desh anti-minority violence

By Our Representative  Several well-known South Asian activists and public figures of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Maldives have expressed “deep distress” by the spate of violence and killings in Bangladesh on the occasion of Durga Puja and Vijayadashami. “Attacks on minorities are a sign of injustice and a matter of shame for any society and bring a bad name to the Government”, they said in a joint statement.

March opposes Sabarmati Ashram renovation: 'Mahatmaji had kept open for access to all'

Counterview Desk A Sevagram to Sabarmati march, which began on October 17 from Wardha (Maharashtra) and will end on October 24 in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), has demanded that the Sabarmati Ashram, the government should not impose "the fashion and glitz of a shallow modernity" at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, in the name of renovating the Ashram founded by Gandhiji.