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Water sources have right over their water and sand

Written By Unknown on Sunday, March 23, 2014 | 11:38 PM

Fredrick Engels said, "Let us not flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory, nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which too often cancel the first."

Speaking on the occasion of World Water Day, Dinesh Kumar Mishra underlined the need for a potent peoples resistance against technocentric approach of of treating natural water sources as pipelines of water. There is a case for reversing the current ways of water management where people's consent is inconsequential. 

Dr Kalyan Rudra said that we are in the era of crisis. Flood is a sediment dispersal system. British era systems and Green revolution model has disturbed the sediment dispersal system. Artifical water command areas have been created.  the water resource engineering in India during the post-independent era was largely dedicated towards the expansion of irrigation to ensure the food security for the growing population. He wondered as what is more important water withdrawal from the river or water retention in  the river. The current philosophy of water management needs to be challenged by factoring transmission distribution loss, biodiversity loss and canal bed absorption loss.   

Ramaswamy Iyer recollected that four days after he joined as Secretary, Union Ministry of Water Resources, Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India called him and wondered as to why were are fighting with our rivers. Why can't we talk of river as beyond political boundaries. But this approach was not pursued as he got caught in other issues. He was critical of both myopic bilateralism and blind multilateralism in dealing with water resources which gets caught caught in bargain diplomacy. He underlined that Indus treaty was a partition treaty and not a treaty of co-operation. Jammu & Kashmir has faced many difficulties with the Indus treaty. He contended that water is more divisive than Kashmir. Water related treaties are a product of the nature political relationship between the countries.      

It was submitted by speaker after speaker that river is not a material flow alone, its a life flow. It is a living system. He called for resistance of people against ecologically destructive river diversion projects like Interlinking of Rivers being advocated by likes of Narendra Modi. Six links in the proposed scheme are related to Bihar's rivers. He expressed alarm at the massive scale on which sand is being excavated from rivers. It seems rivers are being lifted away to build concrete jungles. Sand is the receptacle of water. If there is no sand in the river there will be no river. As children of rivers all negotiations and legal frameworks must recognize the right of river to its own sand and water. In bilateral and multilateral talks, rivers should also be recognized as a party. He ridiculed the notion of "temporary" and "permanent" solutions through embankments, dams and interlinking of rivers. How permanent is this permanent. The  embankments have a life span of 25 years and dams have life span of 37 years. He called for stoppage of ongoing of mutilation of rivers and disruption of aquifers that contributes to drainage congestion and drying of rivers. Water related treaties like Kosi treaty are outdated and must be revisited.          

At the end of the sessions a PSAARC Draft Statement was shared which is to be finalized in the coming days. 

Gopal Krishna 

On the occasion of World Water Day 2014

10:30 – 11:45am Session 1: Kosi River Basin

Framing of PSAARC Draft Statement 
22 MARCH 2014

Constitution Club
New Delhi

Organised by

People's SAARC-India
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People &
ActionAid India

9:30 – 10:30 am
Opening Plenary - Ramaswamy Iyer

Deo Narayan Yadav (Nepal)
Dr D K Mishra (India)
Gopal Krishna (India)
Kameshwar Kamati (India)
Vijay Kumar (India)
Ranjiv (India)
AA Study team members

11:45am-1:15pm Session 2: Barak & Brahmaputra
Dr. Mohd Abdul Matin (Bangladesh)
Ravindranath (India)
AA Study team members

1:15-2:00 Lunch
2:00-3:15pm Session 3: Ganga & Teesta River Basins
Dr Kalyan Rudra (India)
Tseten Lepcha (India)
Mostafa Kamal Majumder (Bangladesh)
AA Study team members

3:15pm-3:30pm Tea
3:30-4:45pm Session 4: Indus River Basin
Dr Sudhirendra Sharma (India)
Basharat Ali (India)
Prof. Shakil Romshoo (India)
AA Study team members

4:45-5:30pm Concluding Plenary
Prof. Anuradha Chenoy (India)
Himanshu Thakkar (India)
Ashim Roy (India)
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