Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Today's pick: Subrat Sahu's article on the Lower Suktel Dam Controversy.

Dams and the Doomed… min(e)d games of the state

April 29, 2013

by Subrat Kumar Sahu

‘We all are living in a gang war… [in which] the state is just another gang!’ 

- Arundhati Roy

In the wee hour 29 April 2013, at least 10 platoons of police cracked down on a gathering of about 2000 people, sitting in peaceful protest, on the bed of Suktel River, emanating from the magnificent Gandhamardan Mountains. Near Magurbeda village of Balangir district in Orissa, they were protesting against the construction of a dam at gunpoint on the river – their solitary lifeline – that will submerge more than 50 villages and devastate a self-reliant and robust agrarian economy. The forces came, saw the people, started beating them mercilessly, and invaded the ground. Several left injured and 16 of them arrested, including nine women. Among them were Lenin Kumar, poet and editor of Nisan (an Oriya literary magazine), and Amitabh Patra, an activist-filmmaker. Patra had received the severest of blows; understandably so, as he was filming the state-sponsored brutality live: his camera and head smashed. He fell unconscious and, only hours later, was taken to the hospital at the district headquarters of Balangir where he regained his senses.

Thousands of people of the Lower Suktel plateau have been agitating against this dam project for more than a decade now, facing brutal repression time and again. The state terror has magnified manifold since the past 20 days or so, as the state decided to push this project on war footing and complete it before elections next year – owing to unprecedented pressure from (1) the local politician class of all possible hues who have acquired huge tracts of farm land and hope to multiply returns if irrigation is ensured; (2) land mafia of Balangir who have duped and bought land from project-affected people even after the project was notified, which is illegal, in hope of pocketing hefty compensation amount (some of them are also leading a movement to raise the compensation amount); (3) big landholders of the area who have appropriated land from the aborigines (adivasis and dalits) over time; (4) the educated middle-class who see this brand of ‘development’ as a tool of salvation since the entry of a new market culture would cater to their aristocratic lifestyle and greedy capitalist aspirations (this includes many lawyers, engineers, doctors, professors, journalists, traders, contractors, and the likes). So, for the past 20 days or so, there have been unspoken brutalities unleashed on the people who have held the soil inviolate for centuries. More than a hundred people have been arrested so far and scores beaten up badly; a woman has also died of sunstroke while braving police aggression under a scorching sun.
What actually propels the state to get down to such excesses? Let’s have a quick take on it.

Nehru’s temple of doom

The fact that big dams and associated hydroelectric projects are actually NOT intended for irrigation and power-supply to people, as is always propagated, has come clearer to public perception in light of the recent controversy surrounding the Hirakud Dam in Orissa. The Orissa government’s decision to divert 478 cusec of water in 2007, originally meant for irrigation, from the dam reservoir to feed the mushrooming industries has created a political storm in the state in which ordinary folks have come out to the street in resistance. On 6 November 2007, more than 40,000 farmers gathered in front of Hirakud Dam and marched into the ‘prohibited area’ pulling down at least four police barricades in an unprecedented show of ‘civil disobedience’. The police though tried to push the demonstration back with a sudden and ruthless lathi charge, in which more than 35 farmers including women were badly injured, the successful act of civil disobedience by the strong gathering of ordinary people definitely jolted the powers-that-be in Bhubaneshwar out of their wits.

The controversy has even brought to fore how the dam has failed the originally promised irrigation plans and even produces electricity much below the promised and projected capacity. The water-carrying capacity of the reservoir has decreased drastically over the years, and nearly 50,000 acres of land in the irrigation command area has already turned dry. In such a demanding situation, the government’s plan to divert 478 cusec of water to industries would baffle any sensible mind. The fact that one cusec of water could irrigate 100 acres of land would arguably rage the farmers, especially when they were waiting for the government to set the worsening water situation right. Moreover, a large number of people displaced due to this project five decades back have not even been rehabilitated yet. Widespread reporting (for a change) of the harrowing facts that this movement brought forth into public gaze has had people learn a lot, especially that Nehru’s ‘temple of modern India’ for which innumerable sacrifices were made has only turned out to be the ‘temple of doom’ for the people! However, instead of learning from this blunder, the government kept on pushing numerous dams in various parts of the state down people’s throats, clearly indicating that dams are for industries, especially mining, and that industries are more sacrosanct than people.

Invoking the colonial ghosts

The fact that the Naveen Patnaik government has not left any doubt in public perception regarding its war-footing agenda to turn the entire state into an industrial graveyard explains it being so adamant and impatient in pushing several dubious dam projects throughout the state, despite strong opposition from the common folks as well as from environmentalists. Orissa now witnesses a sudden, uncomfortable, and outrageous influx of foreign mining and metal companies to set up shops there by destroying people’s homes, livelihoods, and cultures. These water- and energy-intensive industries, in turn, unleash unbearable burden on the natural resources, and the state government is only tamely obliging, pushing aside people’s needs and well being. Among these, the share of bauxite mining and aluminium-manufacturing units is the largest, especially in the western part of the state.

Supplying electricity and water to aluminium factories has historically been the central reason for the construction of big dams the world over. Europe and North America witnessed a spate of big dams built during the 1900s–1930s, soon after the technology of aluminium manufacturing matured in the West towards the end of the 19th century (Silenced rivers: the ecology and politics of large dams, Patrick McCully, 1998). This is because production of aluminium demands exceptionally large amounts of electricity and water. Producing one tonne of aluminium requires 15,000–16,000 kWh (kilowatt-hours) of electricity and 10,000–12,000 litres of water.

It is little wonder that the present plans for intensive mining of bauxite in Orissa alongside number of big dams, aluminium factories, and rail links actually date back to the 1920s. In fact, British geologist Cyril Fox had then outlined the whole plan for Orissa’s aluminium industry, as a colonial undertaking, involving aluminium factories, dams, railways, and ports, fed by bauxite mines on the main mountains (Double death: aluminium’s links with genocide revealed, Felix Padel and Samarendra Das, 2006). The Orissa government, of late, is only invoking the ghosts of colonial exploitation by welcoming foreign mining giants to dig every bit of the state while making their business easy by building dams, railway tracks, and roads with public and borrowed money, displacing and distressing millions of people and ensuring the state’s long-term indebtedness.

Damning a people

As the general mass is now aware of the warped intentions behind building dams, they are opposing such projects wherever there is an attempt to evict them from their homes and lands. The movement against the Lower Suktel Dam project is one such movement that is in its peak now in the Loisingha block of Orissa’s Balangir district.

The project has an interesting history, which evidently links to the state’s notorious mining agenda. The first survey for the dam project (the Lower Suktel Major Irrigation Project) was done way back in 1979; soon after it came to public knowledge that BALCO had been given permission to mine the adjacent Gandhamardan Mountains for bauxite. But, the government’s contention on the dam project then was also that for irrigation. However, a strong and determined people’s movement threw BALCO out of Gandhamardan in the 1980s and the government eventually scrapped its mining plans there. Interestingly, following that, work on the dam project also did not move ahead from there.

Now that scores of mining companies (including the infamous Vedanta and NALCO) have applied for and are eagerly waiting for approval to mine Gandhamardan, suddenly the dam project has once again become the state’s priority agenda. As people clearly see a nefarious nexus between mining and the dam, they have pulled up their sleeves in opposing it. Moreover, the government is unbending in not making public the DPR (detailed project report) despite demands from all quarters. While the people are united in fighting under the banner of the Lower Suktel Budi Anchal Sangram Samiti, government officials have earlier forced people in many villages to accept the so-called compensation money. Police force has been used mercilessly against the villagers in number of occasions and false cases have been registered against hundreds of them, including teenagers. In 2005, 52 persons (including school-going girls) from Dungripali and Pardhiapali villages were arrested, beaten up badly (two of them later succumbed to the injuries), and sent to judicial custody. They were released on bail after 21 days after the intervention of a local lawyer while the cases are still pending.

The Lower Suktel area is known as the vegetable garden of Orissa and is one of the most fertile land sites of the state. Even without any irrigation programme, the area has never witnessed drought or famine in history. Moreover, its forests are abundant in medicinal plants and revenue-generating tree species, apart from containing a rich biodiversity.

Interestingly, the Suktel River does not have much water to make way for a dam meant for irrigation. Villagers believe that it is a dangerous ploy by the state to first displace majority of the population through this dam project so that there will be few left to oppose when some inane mining giant comes to mine the Gandhamardan Mountains. There is also a plan afoot to interlink the Hati River to the Lower Suktel reservoir considering that Suktel does not hold much water. That makes it clear why a reservoir is needed exactly where it is being built. That would perfectly serve the mining company by providing it with a water source just next door.

The people’s movement against the project here offers a microcosm of the political economy of mining, linked to dams, devastation, and displacement – all in the name of ‘development’ (of a tiny sect of people, as listed in the beginning, whose greed and aspirations are acknowledged by the state as ‘will of the people’)!

While the villagers are resolute in putting up a strong resistance and had till now forced to stop the construction of the dam, meanwhile the government, after setting up several police stations in tiny villages, in the middle of nowhere, and a massive police barrack next to the dam site, has now declared war on its own people.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Thought on Police Brutaity at Lower Suktel Dam Project site:

The crime that the police does in not registering cases against rape victims and harassing/beating up protesters in Delhi, it does in Lower Suktel Dam Project and several other areas by brutally beating up the helpless farmers and other common people. What hurts is the 'urban middle class' which terms itself as educated and aware has no conscience to be disturbed by this growing trend. Such incidences of 'development terrorism' are easily ignored under the cover of ' crushing protests against development projects'. Shame!

Can anyone ask why Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi or any other big politician or industrialist be provided security cover by the state/govt. (people's) money when they are capable enough to buy their own security. If someone needs any security then they are the villagers, poor farmers and others who are fighting against a brutally armed mighty police force in many such areas.

Can we not debate this as 'development'? Or, development to us necessarily means 'killing poor people for benefit of the rich; and destroying ecology for greed of a few?'

Friday, April 26, 2013

Good Morning Thought - 28th April 2013!

There is hardly anything called pessimism, nor is it the opposite of optimism.  In reality, the gullible world of ‘yes boss’ people consider all ethical and questioning minds as pessimists…

Good Morning!
Have a Great Weekend!!

Earth Day 2013 article published in Times of India

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Give Earth some Earth: Happy Earth Day 2013 !

Urban agitations are only visible.

Agitations are visible when they are urban. Each day lakhs of rural farmers, fisher folks and other common people are agitating against injustice being done to them but no one seems to care. Lower Suktel Dam Project is a case in point.

I had said earlier too: to get noticed by justice you have to stay at Delhi and be raped...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Good Morning Thought - 21st April 2013!

Traffic today is full of bikers who think the world will end unless they reach their destinations in a few seconds...

Good Morning!
Have a Great Sunday!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Good Morning Thought - 18th April 2013!

When the heart gets registered to deep pain, it can become immune to both love and hate, bomb and flowers…

Good Morning!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Photo Contest: Healthy River, Happy Children!

Healthy River, Happy Children!!

Are you a young photographer/photo enthusiast? 
Are you concerned about the decaying health of Rivers of Odisha?
Are you worried about our children not getting healthy Rivers to play and groom their childhood?

If answer to the above questions is YES, then you are invited to participate in a FIRST of its kind photo contest for young photographers interested to capture the relationship between Rivers and our Children. 

Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), in collaboration with Photophilics International (PI) invite young photographers of Odisha to participate in a photographic contest as per the following terms and conditions:

1.            The photographs should capture the relationship that children of the state of Odisha share with the Rivers of Odisha. The contest centres around the theme “Healthy River, Happy Children”. 
2.            The photographs should be able to show: i. the joys and happiness of children in relation to Rivers; ii. The impact of pollution on Rivers and related impacts over children; and iii. Initiatives taken up by individuals or organisations/groups to save Rivers that has helped develop relationship of Children with Rivers.
3.            The participants must be in the age group of 15 – 40.
4.            The photographs will only be accepted in print copies of size 12-18.
5.            A photographer can submit a maximum of 4 photograph under each of the three themes described above in Point 2. 
6.            A photographer can chose to submit photos on any/all themes. Each photo should have the following details in a separate piece of paper: a. Name, b. Age, c. Sex, d. Complete postal address with cell phones and email ids, e. Theme under which a particular photo is submitted and f. Title/Caption for the photo, if any.
7.            The photographer must enclose envelops with suitable postage stamp for return of the photos.  The organisers will not be responsible for any damage of the pictures in transit. 
8.            The photographs can be edited but in a minimum manner. 
9.            The photograph must be the original work of the photographer.  Any disputes raising out of the photographs shall be the liability of the photographer and not the organizers.
10.          WIO & PI will have the right to exhibit the photos selected with proper acknowledgement. 
11.          The winners will be intimated over phone/email id. 
12.          While winners of First, Second and Third positions will get Prizes/cash rewards, all participants will get Certificates.
13.          There is no participation fees.
14.            Participation will not necessarily guarantee awards and the organizers will not be liable for any explanations for rejections of any photograph.
15.          The photographs should be sent in sealed envelopes with appropriate protection.  The envelopes should be superscribed with “Photos for ‘Healthy Rivers, Happy Children’ competition’, and should be sent to the following address:

Photophilics International
C/o: Hotel Sujata, V. S. S. Marg, Sambalpur – 768 001, Odisha, INDIA.
Cell numbers: +91-9437060727/9437050103


For further details, contact:

Ranjan Panda, Convenor, WIO. Cell: +91-94370-50103. Email: ranjanpanda@gmail.com
Shaswat Padhi, President, PI.  Cell: +91-94370-60727. Email: shaswat.p@gmail.com

This photo contest is part of a larger campaign that aims at building a healthy relationship between the urban communities and Rivers/Water Bodies. Several Organisations and Individuals have come forward to be part of this campaign.  A few to name are: ONE DROP, Bakul Foundation, Yuva Udayan, Nadi Ghati Morcha (Raipur), Hotel Sujata and Sakshi Handlooms.  Anyone concerned about health of Rivers and interested to be a part of this campaign may please contact Ranjan Panda, Convenor, WIO at the above email id/mobile number.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Good Morning Thought - 15th April 2013!

Life gives you worries only when you are worried about life.  Don’t worry, flow with it…

Good Morning!
Have a Great Week!!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Maharashtra Deputy CM offers Urine to farmers when they want Water!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Greetings from Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) !

This is really shocking.  Maharashtra is reeling under one of the severest drought conditions in known history and the Deputy Chief Minister of the state Mr. Ajit Pawar, who is also the nephew of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, has humiliated farmers of this nation by a very shocking statement.  As you can see from the NDTV report that I am pasting below, Mr. Pawar has said in a rally, "There is this person from Solapur, sitting on hunger strike for 55 days demanding water be released from the dam. But where are we going to get water from? Should we urinate? And when we are not getting water to drink even urine is not coming easily." 

He has apologized for his remarks later but this speaks for the true character of the current ruling political class of this nation who are all sold out to interest of industries and rich urbanites.  They are all out to kill the farmers and farming.  

Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) condemns this statement by Mr. Pawar and asks him to provide sufficient water for irrigation to needy farmers; stop rampant commercialization of agriculture; stop privatizing water resources and draw suitable lines for industrialization in the state keeping in view the water and ecological footprint carrying capacity of the ecology.  

We are keeping a watch on the issue and will keep you updated.  If you are also looking at this issue and have something to share, please do share with us.  And, if you are interested to join hands with WIO in its campaigns, advocacy efforts and action programmes, please contact us at ranjanpanda@gmail.com/ranjanpanda@yahoo.com.

Thanks and regards,


Ajit Pawar apologises for shocking remark: 'If no water in dam, do we urinate in it?'

Pune: Maharashtra's Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Sunday apologised for ridiculing a two-month-long protest by a farmer, who is demanding dam water for his parched field.

"There is this person from Solapur, sitting on hunger strike for 55 days demanding water be released from the dam. But where are we going to get water from? Should we urinate? And when we are not getting water to drink even urine is not coming easily," Mr Pawar had said at a rally in Indapur, Pune, on Saturday.

Yesterday, in a statement, Mr Pawar said he is sorry for "hurting sentiments of people in Maharashtra with his comment". "These remarks were not made for drought-affected people," he said.

Protesting farmer slams Ajit Pawar's remark on water shortage

Mr Pawar is the nephew of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and a senior leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Commenting on the shortage of electricity, Mr Pawar made another controversial remark. "I have also come to know that since there is a shortage of electricity in Maharashtra, the population is increasing," he said.

As the crowd laughed, Mr Pawar added, "All of you must be thinking that I have taken (liquor) in the day itself."
Prabhakar Deshmukh, the farmer Mr Pawar ridiculed, said the minister had insulted the people of Maharashtra.

Mr Pawar was to hold a rally in Pune on Sunday, but it was cancelled. The NCP is tight-lipped on the issue, but party leaders are reportedly shocked by Mr Pawar's statement. "Even as a joke, this is just unacceptable," a senior leader said.

The BJP too slammed Mr Pawar. "Instead of saying that I stand by the public he makes comments like this. This is the lowest of low in Maharashtra politics," BJP leader Shaina NC said.

 The Maharashtra government says the state is reeling under the worst drought since 1972. Most affected are the districts of Solapur, Ahmednagar, Sangli, Pune, Satara, Beed and Nashik.

 Ajit Pawar had to resign after allegations were levelled against him in the Rs. 70,000 crore irrigation scam as he held the irrigation and water resources portfolio for a nearly a decade. However, the party reinstated him later.

-          Reported by Tejas Mehta and Syed Imtiaz Jaleel, Edited by Amit Chaturvedi | Updated: April 08, 2013 00:25 IST

Source: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/ajit-pawar-apologises-for-shocking-remark-if-no-water-in-dam-do-we-urinate-in-it-351163

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Scrap Polavaram Project.

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Greetings from Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)!

As you are aware WIO has been opposing the Polavaram Project and all other such large dams which are nothing but socio-economic and environmental disasters.  Despite of opposition from the Governments of Odisha and Chhatisgarh, Andhra Pradesh has been moving ahead with the disastrous Polavaram project.  

Forwarding for your interest the latest news in that front where in the news paper seems to be believing that the Govt. of India is yielding to pressure of the Govt. of Odisha.  We have always opposed the illegal way in which the AP government is going ahead with the project and have been demanding them to scrap the project. 

The way the central government has been supporting AP in this is dubious and shows its 'open bias' towards that State and mostly towards such huge destructive engineering structures. I am sure the proposed tripartite meeting is just to convince Odisha and Chhatisgarh to agree to the devastation.  
Odisha should stick to its position and call for scrapping the Polavaram project.  Further, the State itself should also refrain from implementing any such disastrous projects within Odisha.  Ironically, the govt. of Odisha has opposed Polavaram on grounds which it ignores when it comes to such projects promoted by it, within the state.

We are keeping a watch on the developments and will keep you updated.  If you are also looking at this issue and have something to share, please do share with us.  And, if you are interested to join hands with WIO in its campaigns, advocacy efforts and action programmes, please contact us at ranjanpanda@gmail.com/ranjanpanda@yahoo.com.

Thanks and regards,


Polavaram back to square one

The jinx that settled on the Indirasagar (Polavaram) Multi-Purpose Project in 1943 refuses to lift even now. On Friday, the Centre appeared to be yielding to the pressure of the Odisha government to stop the project as it might lead to submergence of large tracts of lands in the Maoist-infested Malkangiri district.

Union Minister for Water Resources Harish Rawat said in Delhi that there would be secretary-level tripartite meeting soon among the three stakeholders - Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chhattisgarh - to iron out  differences and facilitate an amicable solution. He said the Odisha government had been raising a number of  objections to the project.

This statement came as a dampener since the Rs 4,717-crore head works had been awarded to L1 bidder Transstroy (India) Ltd-JSC Engineering Centre UES (Russia) which began work in March.

Odisha filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2007 seeking to make environmental and RR clearances granted to the project null and void. It has been insisting ever since that till such time as the issue is resolved in the apex court, there should not be any construction activity.

- By Express News Service - HYDERABAD 06th April 2013 07:14 AM

Friday, April 5, 2013

Latest on National Water Policy of India.

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Forwarding for your interest a latest news from the National Water Resources Council meeting.  From the discussions of the Chief Ministers of the quoted states you can find out how states are really waking up to water scarcity and other issues.  Odisha had also raised its apprehensions about the Water Framework Law.  

WIO has been actively participating in debates and processes at national level on the water policy and I can tell you that the Central Government is trying hard to push through a law to encroach upon the rights of the states.  The butter quoted law, if at all it comes, is certainly going to restrict the rights of the states.  Further, the national water policy is opening the floodgates for private capital to come into water sector and deprive people and democratic institutions from their due say and control over decision making.  There are several other dangers in the policy.  We had raised and registered our objections to the first draft of the policy.  The government has considered some of our suggestions.  However, a lot needs to be done still. 

Our debate and actions on the National Water Policy are on; and we shall keep you updated.  If you want to join, please get back to us at ranjanpanda@gmail.com/ranjanpanda@yahoo.com

Thanks and regards,



States adopt latest National Water Policy

Pti : New Delhi | Apr 05, 2013

Earlier the states had expressed apprehensions over the proposed national legal framework on water resources. However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to allay fears by saying the Centre has no intention to encroach their rights on water management.

See what the states have to say about the new water policy.

Maha demands planning of basins to deal with water shortages

Maharashtra: Faced with water shortages, Maharashtra today demanded planning of basins or sub-basins on the basis of average annual water availability after factoring in limitations put in by awards of river dispute tribunals.
Addressing the meeting of the National Water Resources Council, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said almost 80 per cent of Maharashtra was rainfed and the projected irrigation potential was not beyond 30 per cent of the total area.

"To overcome the natural handicaps in the availability of water, we are proposing the planning of basins/sub-basins on the basis of the average annual water availability – subject of course to limitations put in by the awards of the river water dispute tribunals," he said.

Chavan said it would be helpful if this requirement of water short basins could be covered by appropriate wording in the National Water Policy.

He supported the provisions in the policy to keep aside a portion of river flows to meet the ecological needs ensuring that the low and high flow releases are proportional to the natural flow regime, including base flow contribution in the low flow season through regulated ground water use.

Chavan also sought financial support for urban bodies and public institutions on recycling and reuse of water as also for installation of electronic meters in almost a crore urban households.

"The local bodies or the consumers may not be able to defray such costs on their own. Here again, we request the Government of India to consider an appropriate package to meet such new evolving needs," he said.
Chavan said additional cost of transporting water from distant sources for supply to semi-arid regions need to be supported so that local communities are not burdened.

KTK demands permanent water dispute tribunal

Karnataka: Amid disputes between states over water-sharing, Karnataka today demanded setting up of a permanent water dispute tribunal in the Supreme Court and revisiting the Inter State Water Disputes Act to remove "loose ends" in the legislation.

"Permanent water dispute tribunal should be established in the Apex Court and its benches at all the States' High Courts on the lines of the Green Bench," Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said in his speech at the sixth meeting of the national water resources council here.

He suggested that it should have a sitting Supreme Court judge as its chairperson with multi-members from technical, environmental, geological, economical and legal fields.

 Noting that present laws "create more disputes because of several loose ends" in the existing Acts, Shettar said that Inter State Water Disputes Act should be revisited.

"None of the present laws are able to establish a just water regime to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders," he said.

Without referring to Cauvery water sharing dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Shettar said in some cases Government of India stand has delayed the projects which can be otherwise.

"The absence of a water regime had been forcing us to go to the Supreme Court, by which Government of India is trying to absolve its conciliatory role which is prescribed by the Indian Constitution, which is an expected role being the Head of the federal structure, which need to be strongly established," he said.

Shettar said he made this statement because Karnataka "as a mid and upper riparian state suffered in both utilization and construction of projects which resulted in depriving the people of Karnataka their due and legal right of their share of water." Centre should leave law making to states: Akhilesh on water law
Uttar Pradesh: Opposing a proposal in the National Water Policy to create an over-arching law on water management, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today said the Centre should restrict itself to deciding on the principles of such a framework and leave law making to states.

"While the UP government agrees to most of the proposals (in the draft Water Policy), the proposal to create a law on water is a sensitive issue. Water is a state subject according to the Constitution and states have a right to formulate policies keeping in mind their special needs," he said.

Yadav's speech was read out in absentia by state PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav.

He said it would be better if the Centre only formulates the basic directive principles for creating such a law.
The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister also cautioned that any amendment to the Indian Easement Act, 1882 should be made after discussions with various stakeholders keeping in mind the social scenario in the country.

"Existing Acts, such as Indian Easements Act, 1882, Irrigation Acts, may have to be modified accordingly in as much as it appears to give proprietary rights to a land owner on groundwater under his/her land," the draft National Water Policy says.

Yadav lamented the long time taken in approving flood control schemes and said the present one year period should be curtailed.

"The entire amount for flood control projects should be released to the states in one go," he said.

He also demanded intervention of the Centre so that Pancheshwar, Nemure and Karnali dams in neighbouring Nepal could be constructed at the earliest to prevent floods in the state.

Badal opposes water regulatory authority

Punjab: Opposing establishment of a water regulatory authority, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said that any revision in the national water policy should be based on the existing constitutional provisions and universally accepted riparian principles.

Participating in the deliberations at the 6th meeting of the National Water Resources Council chaired by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here, Badal said water was a state subject under the Constitution and the states have exclusive power of legislation on it.

Expressing strong reservations over the establishment of a water tariff system and a water regulatory authority under the draft National Water Policy-2012, the Chief Minister opposed the move, saying these should be left to the states for taking appropriate decision.

Badal asserted that Punjab being an agrarian state was opposed to the concept of integrated planning and management of river basins and setting up of basin authorities by legislation.

"Without prejudice to our consistent stand on riparian rights, principles of equitable distribution of water should be well-defined," he said, adding that existing usage and future needs of water of a state be protected as otherwise it would directly affect the growth of the state.

The Chief Minister said water was a critical issue and tragic conflicts in the country were a result of mishandling of this sensitive issue.

He lamented that a major part of 'Punjab tragedy', for which the entire country had to pay a big price, was due to the Centre's refusal to address the river waters issue along just and internationally and nationally accepted riparian principle.

"This is one of the many areas where our decision makers in New Delhi must show greater sensitivity, statesmanship and farsightedness in handling critical issues such as water," Badal said.

Badal said the distribution of powers under the federal structure of the Constitution should in no case be tinkered with by making changes in frame work of existing laws, and added that each state has its own consideration in planning, management and use of its water resources.

He said the contribution made by each basin state to the catchment area of a river should be the main criteria for apportionment of water.

Citing the Irrigation Commission Report, 1972, which observed that the drainage area of Punjab in the Indus basin is three times that of Rajasthan and five times that of Haryana, Badal rued that yet Punjab was allocated only about 25 per cent share in Ravi-Beas waters as Rajasthan and Haryana were allocated about 50 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

Alleging direct infringement on the freedom of states by way of imposing any integrated water resources management for the basin as a whole or sub-basin, Badal said such purported move would deprive states from their legitimate rights to plan, formulate and execute water supply schemes as per their needs.

Any integrated water management plan would lead to more conflicts among states, he said.

On subsidised irrigation to Punjab farmers, he said it was primarily done to compensate farmers to some extent keeping in view their contribution in making India self-reliant in food production, noting the price of agri produce was fixed in an "arbitrary" manner rendering it "unremunerative".

He said it is known that farming all over the world was subsidised to enable farmers achieve sustainability and survival essential for ensuring national food security.

 Badal also stressed on the point that hard work of state's farmers helped in making a major contribution (over 50 per cent) to the National Food Pool.

He regretted that state's water resources were grossly inadequate and with its surface water resources fully utilised, there was great strain on ground water which was over- exploited resulting in its depletion.

Water conservation: Haryana for setting up of national fund

Haryana: Asking National Water Resources Council to deliberate on modalities for resolving inter-state water-related issues, Haryana today advocated setting up of a national fund to promote measures for conservation of water.

Haryana also rejected Punjab's suggestion that neighbouring states sharing river waters should also share the cost of flood management.

At the 6th Council meeting here, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said Haryana has suffered in this regard as it neither got water from Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal despite Supreme Court orders nor did it get its share in Ravi-Beas waters, as its tribunal's final award has not been published.

On his Punjab counterpart Parkash Singh Badal's suggestion made yesterday that neighbouring states should share flood management expenses and cost of repair of flood damage, Hooda rejected the demand as "absurd" and said each state has to deal with its floods and other calamities.

Hooda lamented that Punjab enacted a law terminating water related agreements and the Centre has allowed the Presidential Reference on it to linger on for more than eight years. "This is unfair to the people of Haryana. The people of Haryana have several other grievances also," he said.

He welcomed the proposal to set up a permanent Water Disputes Tribunal at the centre to resolve disputes, but sought timely implementation of orders/directions of various tribunals and courts in this regard.

Welcoming the proposal to constitute River Basin authorities, Hooda said representation should not be made only from those states which have only nominal area in the basin.

The Haryana Chief Minister also welcomed the setting up of Water Regulatory authorities.

Hooda urged the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter, so that major contributors to the national food basket are not put to any disadvantage on this account.

He also called for convening more such meetings of the Water Resources Council and lamented that important issues pertaining to inter-state disputes had not even been listed for discussion.

Citing international practices on use of sprinkling methods for conserving water, he said the Government should consider giving incentives for adopting efficient water technologies.

The Haryana Chief Minister also talked about its share in the Ravi and Beas rivers, but lamented that it has been denied its share in power generated from Thein Dam constructed on the Ravi.

"We have been raising this issue at various forums, but there is no resolution yet," he said.

Source: http://m.indianexpress.com/news/states-adopt-latest-national-water-policy/1051467/