Saturday, March 31, 2012
WIO Update – 31st March 2012
Industry Up, Agriculture Down
An agrarian state disobeys its own Water Policy and favours industries at the cost of agriculture. Odisha’s water management on a wrong path!
Agriculture declines as water to industry increases
· Water allocation to industries from rivers in Odisha goes up by 224 per cent in just two years
· Irrigation coverage of the state has increased marginally.
· Net sown area has reduced by 4, 38,000 hectares.
· The increased allocation of water to industries deprived at least 1, 68,000 ha of land from irrigation.
In Odisha net sown areas have come down while irrigation coverage has marginally increased. This is when the water allocation to industries has gone up drastically. We at Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) have just found it out based on analysis of the recent government statistics. In a state, where agriculture is still the mainstay of the economy and whose water policy prioritizes ‘irrigation’ far above ‘industries’ this shows how the government is favouring the industries at the cost of agriculture.
In February this year the Chief Minister of the state revealed the latest statistics of water allocation to industries. According to this data, there are 337 industries which are either drawing water or have been permitted to draw water from the 11 river basins of the state.
This is a huge increase, almost of about 224 per cent just in two years!
According to the Department of Water Resources’ Annual Report 2009-2010, only 86 industries and other establishments had been allocated water from river basins of the state. The total water allocated to the 86 industries and other commercial establishments as per 2009-2010 annual report was 1993.366 cusecs. As per the latest figures, the industrial allocation has increased to 5102 cusecs. Only 286.272 cusecs of this was allocated prior to the formation of the Water Allocation Committee.
So the water allocation to industries before a decade was just 286.272, which has now increased to 5102 cusecs, an increase of 17 times!
This only shows how the river basins are at increasing stress but also irrigation is neglected.
Even as the government went on increasing water allocation to industries, it failed to provide the necessary irrigation to the farmers.
During the last decade (2000-01 to 2009-2010), the net irrigation in Kharif increased by about 29 per cent only, from about 15,90,000 hectare to about 20,59,000 hectare. The increase in net irrigation in Rabi during this same period increased by about 45 per cent from about 5, 36,000 hectare to about 9,80,000 hectare.
This marginal increase does not seem to have benefited farmers of the state at large as the net sown area of the state has decreased by 4, 38,000 hectares, from 58, 45,000 ha in 2001-02 to 54,07,000 ha in 2010-11.
Agriculture, which provides employment to 60 per cent of the state’s total workforce, is being deliberately neglected in the state.
While farmers are increasingly abandoning farming and are crying for ensured irrigation facilities, the increase in water allocation to industries at the cost of irrigation is unfortunate. Compared to the huge employment potential in the farming sector, heavy industries and mining - the two sectors who are major beneficiaries of the above increased allocation of water – provide negligible employment.
Take for example the direct employment generated by heavy industries such as steel, cement, aluminium, etc. These projects have provided employment only to about 80, 561 people. Mining, a major beneficiary of water allocation in the state, provides direct employment only to 51, 877 people. In fact the employment in mining sector is decreasing over the years. This shows how the water allocation in the state is biased towards industries and mining despite of the fact that they don’t generate benefit to the needy people of the state. This is mockery of the State Water Policy.
Another startling fact that testifies how the government neglects agriculture is the increasing barren land in the state.
While a vast chunk of the state is turning barren, the ‘culturable waste land’ and ‘land put to non-agricultural use’ categories together have increased by a whopping 2, 82,000 ha. Considering that 1 cusec of water can provide irrigation to approximately 35 ha of land, at least 60 per cent of these land could have been brought into cultivation had the decadal increase in water allocation to industries would have been used to create irrigation.
This could have saved lakhs of farmers from leaving farming and would have arrested the degradation process of at least 1, 68,000 ha of land. The number of cultivators in the state is sharply falling. Between 1991 and 2001, as many as 11, 64,000 cultivators had left farming! The latest figures are yet to be available but we are sure it would have been much more heart breaking.
Water Initiatives Odisha urges upon the government to immediately look into this discrimination against irrigation. Stop favouring the industries at the cost of irrigation.
For further details, please contact:
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) is a state level coalition of civil society organisations, farmers, academia, media and other concerned, which has been working on water, environment and climate change issues in the state for more than two decades now.