History tells us of many a battle fought over man's claim over land. The day has finally arrived when the battle is fought over man's claim over water.
Water is a natural resource and like other
natural resources, is getting scarcer by the day, due to adversely changing
climatic and environmental conditions. Many river basins are therefore getting
depleted of its surplus water. Even then, scarcity is a relative
phenomenon. While there might be
sufficient water in the world to satisfy the needs of life, its regional and
seasonal distribution is uneven, leading to scarcity in certain regions and
during certain seasons. Unabashed population growth adds to this demand crisis.
The upper-riparian State of Karnataka is in a position to call most of the shots, irrespective of court orders and central government directives. Karnataka has claimed that it is unable to release water to its neighbouring state when it is reeling under drinking water scarcity. Tamil Nadu meanwhile, appeals for its farmers who are affected by water scarcity caused by insufficient rains and river water for their livelihood – their crops.Selfish political influences in the decision of public policies have aggravated the public water distribution crisis, remaining unresolved by negotiations and court directives.
Dr A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, during his tenure as President
of India, spoke of a National Smart Waterways Grid to harness water from
surplus river basins to feed water deficient river basins. As far back as the
late 1970s, Dinshaw Dastur, a senior consultant engineer had proposed a plan
called the Garland Canal Scheme. It envisaged the construction of two mammoth
canals, one along the foothills of the Himalayas to catch the snowmelts, and
the other around the southern and central plateau of the country, and
connecting the two canals by a series of pipelines. This ambitious project has
remained in the backburner since then, for want of political resolve, and probably
due to its high project cost too.
The Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) was commissioned
in 1948 as an autonomous body, and controlled and managed the flood-prone
Damodar Valley that affected the states of West Bengal and Bihar (now
Jharkhand). Under its independent and professional management, DVC has been
successful managing the equitable distribution of the river water to the
states. Mr B.S. Raghavan, IAS as a former Chief Executive of DVC, vouched for
the independence and effectiveness of DVC in taking care of the interests of
the two states. A similar autonomous body entrusted with the task of the
Cauvery River Basin Management is a solution Mr Raghavan recommends, based on
his experience with DVC.
Israel showcased itself in a recent exhibition called "Open A Door To Israel" in the city of Bengaluru. It displayedthe country's technological advancement in micro drip irrigation, which claims to reduce the use of water for irrigation by 50 per cent. Israel, once known for its arid terrain, has made a tremendous turnaround. It now claims to be a water surplus country. This has been achieved largely due to its rapid strides in technologies like drip irrigation, waste water recycling and desalination. The same techniques have also been adopted by drought hit countries like Paraguay and parts of the United States like California.
Mutual discussions and negotiations between the affected states for a solution having failed, this is no longer an option.
By Susan Koshy, Editor
With input from T N Ashok, Editorial Advisor