Himanshu Thakkar on India’s river battles

col-2-869x568Himanshu Thakkar writes in Civil Society Magazine:

It’s natural for rivers to be in the news during the monsoon or a drought, but that is not the only reason why rivers are being discussed these days. It seems, most of the time, rivers are in the news for all the wrong reasons!

For example, the Cauvery is in the news for the never-ending dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on sharing of its waters, a conflict that keeps rearing its head whenever there is a deficit year. The Cauvery Disputes Tribunal award remains unimplemented, since the Special Leave Petitions of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are pending in the Supreme Court for nine years. Meanwhile, the apex court ordered water to be released on a rather ad hoc basis on 5, 12, 20 and 27 September. Finally, an expert committee was sent to assess ground realities. Unfortunately, the dispute is about the Cauvery, but the poor river’s condition is on no one’s radar. Everyone is only talking about its water!

Similarly, both the Mahanadi and Mahadayi are in the news for interstate water disputes. In the case of the Mahanadi — considered a surplus water river by the Government of India — a dispute has broken out between Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Odisha is accusing upstream state Chhattisgarh of building barrages and dams to store and divert so much water that Odisha will face a crisis. In fact, Odisha has also been diverting water for industry and urban areas, to the detriment of farmers. Neither state is particularly worried about the condition of the river.

Read the full article in Civil Society