ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Babhli Water Conflict: Less Water, More Politics

Water sharing disputes between states are growing, the latest in the news being the conflict between Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh over the Babhli barrage. It puts the spotlight on underlying issues like the lack of an efficient mediating mechanism for conflict resolution both within government and the civil society at all levels. The problem is that of evolving shared modalities of dealing with and sharing water surpluses and shortfalls. This is an aspect that the water disputes tribunals provide no guidelines on because they see water only in terms of legal property to be apportioned. There is also no mechanism to ensure equitable water allocation within a state. In fact, areas within Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are caught in bitter conflicts, much sharper and much larger in scope than Babhli.

'Million Revolts' in the Making

Water conflicts in India have now percolated to every level. They are aggravated by the relative paucity of frameworks, policies and mechanisms to govern use of water resources. This collection of articles, part of a larger compendium, is an attempt to offer analyses of different aspects of water conflicts that plague India today. These conflicts, scale and nature, range over contending uses for water, issues of ensuring equity and allocation, water quality, problems of sand mining, dams and the displacement they bring in their wake, trans-border conflicts, problems associated with privatisation as well as the various micro-level conflicts currently raging across the country. Effective conflict resolution calls for a consensual, multi-stakeholder effort from the grassroots upwards.

A Decade for Action: Water for Life

India has undoubtedly made some impressive gains in providing drinking water to its population compared to the situation at independence. Compare India?s performance to that of many countries, and the picture is a favourable one. However, the fact remains that more people in India lack proper drinking water now than 50 years ago. Also, more people are vulnerable to water related diseases.

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