Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Mahanadi calls for your attention! First post from Regional Dialogue...
Treat Mahanadi as a River, not a commodity….
About 100 representatives of 32 dependent communities, farmers’ organisations and various civil society groups from Odisha and Chhattisgarh gathered in Sambalpur to chalk out a joint strategy to oppose rapid industrial allocation of Mahanadi water. The Water Initiatives Odisha and Chhattisgah’s Nadi Ghati Morcha hosted the gathering on December 23-24, 2012.
Sambalpur: Dec 24, 2012
In the first of its kind gathering that brought together groups from both the states sharing Mahanadi water, the participants including environmentalists and water dependent communities, demanded that local communities must be involved in management of Mahanadi water, demand.
“Mahanadi should be treated as a river not a commodity for mindless industrialisation,” said Ranjan Panda, Convenor of Water Initiatives Odisha, that took the lead in organizing the Dialogue.
About 40 million people depend on Mahanadi for survival in both the states. In the last 50 years, water use from the river has increased by more than seven times. Chhattisgarh has planned 58000 MW thermal power generation using mostly Mahanadi water; Odisha has planned for 75000 MW.
“River is a common resource of people. They should get priority in its water,” says Gautam Bandhopadhya of Nadi Ghati Morcha.
Participants emphasised on joint efforts to counter both the state governments’ aggressive industrial allocation of water. “Water management of the river (Mahanadi) should not be seen in terms of upstream or downstream states. There should be joint movement from both the states to fight rapid industrialisation and its impacts on Mahanadi,” said Prafulla Samantara, leading environmental activist.
The gathering decided to further strengthen people’s movements against privatisation of Mahanadi. “We have been able to slow down government’s water allocation. Movements along Mahanadi in both the states must come together to stop further water allocation to industries,” said Lingaraj, farmer leader.
Representatives of communities affected by industrial pollution of Mahanadi and increasing allocation of water to industries demanded the government should formulate a river policy.
Current water policy has not dealt with rivers in totality, they said.
One of the suggestions is to properly bring out people’s rights over Mahanadi river. “A people’s council of communities directly dependent on river should be formed to manage Mahanadi water,” Durga Prasad Nayak, a retired professor and noted environmentalist.
As activists fighting against Mahanadi water allocation to industries narrated many instances of government giving priority to industrial uses over domestic and irrigation, the non-availability of updated water availability data on Mahanadi came out to be a key issue. “Government uses old data to decide allocation. We are not sure if those allocations are valid,” said Panda.