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Water Conflicts in India

Privatisation: In Chhattisgarh, a River Becomes Private Property

The Chhattisgarh government handed over a stretch of the Sheonath river to a private company to manage water distribution without setting up independent regulatory authorities that could establish guidelines under which a private firm could manage a common resource. A long lease without a regulatory mechanism can lead to unforeseen circumstances

Transboundary Disputes: Politics and Litigation Play Havoc

The conflict over sharing of the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej waters began in 1966, when Haryana was carved out of Punjab and the new state demanded a share under the Punjab Reorganisation Act, which itself is not recognised by Punjab. Despite numerous interventions by the centre and the Supreme Court, the Sutlej Yamuna canal remains incomplete and a general stalemate prevails. In the midst of this controversy, the main issues facing farmers in the two states remain unanswered â?? that of inefficient irrigation policies and practices and increasing cultivation of water intensive crops like paddy and sugar cane.

Transboundary Disputes: Two Neighbours and a Treaty

Pakistan has objected to several features of the Baglihar hydropower project on the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir contending that it violates the Indus Water Treaty. The World Bank, which brokered the IWT, has appointed a neutral expert to resolve the differences. Diplomats fear these developments might cast a shadow on the composite dialogue process as seeking arbitration on the dam means breaking out of the bilateral framework.

Dams and Displacement: Major Loss, Minor Gain

The Polavaram Project was envisaged to harness the Godavari's waters for much needed irrigation purposes in the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and the drier Rayalaseema region. However, the project remains dogged by controversy because there has been no agreement on the area to be submerged and the rehabilitation package to be offered to the project affected people.

Dams and Displacement: When Multiple Conflicts Overlap

The Haribad minor irrigation project in Madhya Pradesh is to be built on the boundary of the two villages of Haribad and Sakad on the Kundi river. The project will largely benefit Haribad, while the tribal people of Sakad will lose their land. This is a brief account of the multiple conflicts that have arisen.

Dams and Displacement: Alternative Restructuring of the Sardar Sarovar

The Sardar Sarovar Project has been the focus of a long drawn-out conflict between the Gujarat government and experts, on the one hand, and anti-big dam activists, on the other. This is a revisiting of the principles behind an alternative that was articulated 10 years ago, but is still relevant today.

Micro-Level Disputes: Failure of Community Institutions

This case study focuses on a group of eight villages in Pathargama block of Godda district of Jharkhand, highlighting water use conflicts between and within villages and the failure of community institutions in dealing with them. The outcomes of these conflicts were the depreciation of the resource base, flash floods and fragmentation, and weakening of traditional institutions. The situation can be resolved by augmenting the resource base and focusing on strengthening village institutions.

Micro-Level Disputes: Traditional Water Harvesting Structure

The work of Tarun Bharat Sangh in Rajasthan has received much attention. There is an urgent need though to question development challenges that go overboard in extolling the virtues of greenery without tracing the hands that own the land and harvest the fruits of public money.

Micro-Level Disputes: Gravity Dam in Trouble

The case of the effort to build a small dam in Bhulaveda in Paschim Midnapur district of West Bengal shows that in struggles between government agencies and local self-government, the losers are often the villagers themselves.

Sand Mining: Groundwater Depletion in Papagani Catchment

Illegal and excessive sand mining in the riverbed of the Papagani catchment area in Karnataka has led to the depletion of groundwater levels and environmental degradation in the villages on the banks of the river in both Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.