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

Water Conflicts in IndiaSubscribe to Water Conflicts in India

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.

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.

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.

Contending Water uses

The conflict over the use of the waters of the Panchna dam for the Keoladeo National Park, in which upstream farmers in the command area of the dam have staged protests, is about rapidly decreasing water supply amidst a growing number of users. There is a need to increase the quantity of available water, though the government's plan to supply chemically-treated drinking water to the park, as part of a larger scheme, will condemn millions of fish, invertebrates and amphibian young to oblivion.

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.

Contending Water Uses: Bridge over the Brahmaputra

The island of Majuli on the river Brahmaputra has been under constant threat from floods as well as rising erosion levels. Tension has simmered between development agencies responsible for flood control and the local people who have opposed the structural measures. The proposed Bogibeel bridge has evoked concerns that the conflict will see an escalation.

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.

Equity, Access Allocation: Conflict in the Bhavani

An increase in population, unplanned expansion in the command area of the river Bhavani in Tamil Nadu and the growing domestic and industrial demand for water have intensified competition among water users in the river basin.

Water Quality: Pollution through Aqua Culture

After the richer locals leased land/water from the poor cooperatives in the 1970s in Kolleru in Andhra Pradesh, the land has remained in the name of poor "beneficiaries", while the real fisherfolk work on meagre wages. Ironically, those legally entitled to the benefits have been reduced to wage earners on their own land/water; the rich have not only taken over all the cooperative societies, but have also started illegal encroachments.

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.

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.

'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.

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