Friday, April 15, 2016

Drought Hit India

Many states, at least seven, have areas with water scarcity and are declared drought hit. These include, Bundel Khand area of Uttar Pradesh and parts of Madhy Pradesh, Latur and Beed districts of Maharashtra, Telangana Gujarat, Chattisgarh and even parts of Orissa. Water shortage affecting millions of people. Districts after districts, and talukas after talks have been declared drought hit. We see in TV, how women and children climbing down steep well to collect water. Successive years of no rain have lead to crop failure. There is no fodder and water even for farm animals. People are moving to cities, in search of job, food and water. People who were farmers yesterday, are being converted to destitutes today.

It is good to see government of Maharashtra with the the help of Indian railways is supplying water to Latur. Why did they wait so long and why other states are not taking the same measure? We had heard of Bundel Khand drought situation at least four to five months before. 

At a time when one area of India is parched, other area gets submerged in flood water. Recently, Chennai was under waist deep water when gates of a dam were opened. Flood lead to widespread damage to public infrastructure and private property. So much so government of Tamil Nadu had demanded a relief package running into thousands of crores. My naive question is could the water from overflowing dams not be transferred to reservoirs that were running dry in other states. Easily, the excess water could have filled reservoirs in other parts of India - Andhra/Telengana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and UP. May be logistics of such a venture would be complex, may be expenditure incurred would high , would the cost be higher than damage that was done to Chennai by flood water? Would the cost be more than lives of humans and animals in dry parts of India?

It is time, government creates a national water policy. It cannot happen year after year, parts of India remains dry and other parts get flooded. Massive effort must be made to create water harvesting by restoring water bodies like ponds, lakes etc, changing agriculture pattern and produce, and bringing new technology for agriculture. Effort must be made to inter-connect some rivers at least in drought prone areas. Lot of debate has gone into different aspects of river linking. Some action must be taken now. We see men, women and children becoming desperate in search of water. India must be protected from both drought and flood.

It is a shame that 60 years post independence Indians have to struggle for drinking water. Yet we hear our leaders siphoning of money meant for farmers and agriculture sector.

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