Sharing River Water Needs Prudent ManagementSeveral things emerge out of the Supreme Court verdict on sharing of the Cauvery waters between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. The most important is that such disputes should reach the courts as the last resort. Instead of establishing individual authorities like the Cauvery Dispute Tribunal there must be a permanent apex body consisting of experts that should go into all aspects of river waters and their sharing between states. The mandate of this body must be beyond just sharing and must encompass areas such as reducing wastage in agricultural sector, polluting of rivers by industries and citizens (yes, even citizens are not immune from this disease) and ground water recharge, among other things. This must be done basin wise for all rivers in the country.
By Sunil Garodia
It has to be recognized that water is not an infinite resource in fact, India is fast becoming a water deficient country with availability going down from 1820 to 1545 cubic metres in ten years between 2001 and 2011. This alarming state of affairs is largely due to poor management practices. In agriculture, for instance, one finds that whole fields are inundated with water when drip irrigation is more scientific and consumes just a fraction of water. Even yields are better in several crops. The government needs to focus on educating farmers about the benefits of drip irrigation. It should also give incentives to farmers who use such scientific methods.
Even in cities water is wasted, largely because there is no political will to charge consumers for using water beyond a minimum basic level. Often, one hears about water meters and how people will have to pay for using water. But nothing comes out of it as no political party is willing to anger the voters. But this results in people wasting a scarce resource. Prudent water management requires that people who manage their needs better be rewarded and those who indulge in wastage be penalized. Hence, although the apex court has awarded more water to Karnataka based on the growing needs of a fast expanding Bengaluru, a reverse audit on water wastage should also be done to find out whether the needs are genuine or can be met with more prudency in managing existing resources.
image courtesy: Frontline magazine