Wednesday, November 10, 2010

ADB ignores farmers' plight, favors corporate sector

ADB ignores farmers' plight, favors corporate sector
By Ranjan Panda

The IWRM Plan of government of Orissa which was prepared with ADB assistance will ensure corporate control of rivers and other water sources.

The report is technically flawed as it has not consulted ‘farmers’, the major stakeholders. Water availability scenarios at present as well as in future years (under a changed climate condition) are not clear and based on old records. Hence, cannot be accepted. The already distressed agriculture in the state will be doomed in the proposed ‘cost recovery’ mechanism opening up the way for corporates to take away water meant for agriculture. The Water Initiative Orissa demands the immediate scrapping of the Technical Report and prepare a fresh one ensuring real and extensive participation of all sections of the society – especially the farmers.

Human chain by farmers guarding Hirakud water. Photo by Ranjan Panda/Water Initiative OrissaSAMBALPUR, 9 Nov 10 -- A state which is reeling under continuous farm distress forcing more and more farmers to commit suicide, any plan to manage water should envisage ensuring irrigation to farm fields. In the name of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) however, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has suggested the government of Orissa to exert more pressure on the farmers by recovering complete cost of irrigation. By providing a meager assistance of less than one third of what our farmers pay as water tax to the government, the ADB is trying to decide on our water future.

If implemented, IWRM will make Orissa a victim of ADB’s aggressive water reforms agenda. The state which is already pushing through industrialization at the cost of irrigation will see more farmers ending their lives and being thrown out of farming. Food security of the state will be doomed. It will also ensure corporate control of water and this is not acceptable.

Prepared by consultants of the ADB, the “TA 7131 Institutional Development of Integrated Water Resources Management in Orissa: India” has been a biased report against the farmers. The Technical Assistance(TA) report  is clearly in favour of corporate control of water resources in line with ADB’s ‘Water for All’ policy formulated in the year 2001 which ADB wants to push through aggressively. The report, as clearly mentioned, has not consulted the farmers whom its implementation will affect the most, and the government of Orissa has sought suggestions and objections to it by giving only about 27 days, that too in the internet. This is a deliberate attempt to keep away farmers from participating in the process considering the fact that most of the farmers live in rural areas without internet access. So, Water Initiative Orissa (WIO) calls this report and the process technically flawed and biased.

We demand the government of Orissa to extend the deadline for seeking comments by at least six months and organize thorough dialogues with farmers and others in all the districts of Orissa.

Women farmers will become very vulnerable. Photo by Ranjan Panda/Water Initiative OrissaWhile the report recognizes the threat to water resources is due to climate change, it fails in providing an exact status of water availability in the state in present as well as future year scenarios.

The report has mentioned that the per capita water availability in the state has reduced from 3359 m3 in 2001 to 3300 m3 at present. This is not supported by any reference material. Going by average reduction statistics at the national level, as WIO has already pointed out earlier, the per capita availability would have reduced to 3000 cubic meter at the least. However, in a state like Orissa, where the water guzzling and polluting industrialization has increased by a large number especially after 2001, this would have gone further down.

Similarly, its projection of water availability by the year 2050 at 2200 is also flawed. While it has considered the IPCC warnings, it has missed out on the projections made by the Integrated Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC’s projections says that the water availability will reduce by another 40 percent just by the year 2025. Considering this and the United Nations' projections that says “by the year 2025 the demand for freshwater is expected to rise to 56 percent above what currently available water can deliver,” these calculations cannot be expected especially in a state which is planning to generate about 60,000 MW of electricity that too from coal fired power stations in seven to eight years. This means the heat in Orissa will be fueled by both global and local warming and will cause water stress. Therefore, we urge upon the government of Orissa to reject this analysis of the ADB consultants and demand a fresh and realistic analysis of water resources. No water management plan can be realistic unless a proper status of water resources is available.

The report talks about establishing a Water Regulatory Authority and full cost recovery of water tariffs from farmers. The experience of such authority in Maharashtra is already under severe criticisms from farmers and civil society groups for being influenced by corporate and rich users of water. Further, in Orissa too, the water reforms so far in the name of establishing Water Users Associations has also been a near to total failure. Under these conditions we apprehend that the plan is actually to put in place systems that will help corporate control over water resources and hence urge upon the Government of Orissa to ensure wide spread dialogue involving all sections of the society before establishing the WRA and any River Basin Organizations.

Ranjan Panda is the Convenor of Water Initiative Orissa. WIO is a state level coalition of civil society organizations, farmers, academia, media and other concerned, which has been working on water and climate change issues in the state for more than two decades now.


1 comment:

  1. Font is not gud
    Da 1 wid vich u wrote earlier was better