Speech On Water Resources

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'Common People, Not Corporates Should Own The Water Resources: Rajendra Singh
-Atul Chaurasia

"Rahiman paani raakhiye,
Bin paani sab soon.
Paani gaye na ubere
Moti, manus, choon..."
(Says Rahim, keep water/ As without water there is nothing/ Sans water pearl loses its luster, Man its existence, Lime its effervescence)

Nothing signifies the importance of water more than this couplet by the 16th-century poet Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana. It goes without saying that water is vital for the existence of mankind. But, water resources in modern times are constrained like never before.

Last month, Section-144 had to be imposed in Maharashtra's Latur and Osamanabad districts to prevent riots arising out of acute water scarcity. Such situations are
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Are we heading towards the era of water wars?
A: The ground circumstances in these districts is much worse than reported by the media. I have visited Latur thrice in recent times. I was there when riots broke out. It was indeed a war-like situation. The fault lies with the short-sighted approach of our leadership.

We have the army and para-military forces to deal with violence. However, the real causes of the unrest remain unaddressed. We have no vision to solve the real problem. There is an urgent need to formulate long-term policies for the conservation of ground water as well as the surface water. Our existence depends on these two kinds of water resources but there are no permanent measures for their preservation. We need to focus not only on storage but also conservation of water resources keeping in mind five years of contingency.

The water shortage is not restricted to Maharashtra alone. The arid regions of Karnataka, Telangana and Bundelkhand are also facing the similar crisis. Our political system is showing historic myopia to deal with the problem.

Q: Apart from the government apathy, what are the other reasons for this
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A: The solution does not lie in imposing Section-144. The government should have banned sugarcane farming in Latur and Osmanabad and focused on crops that require less water. The focus should have been on the preservation of surface water.

Q: Is there any self-sustaining model of water management?
A: One such model has been implemented in Rajasthan. The conservation of water is not the sole responsibility of the government. The society also needs to take the initiative. The water conservation efforts were started in some regions in the decade of 80s. The land turned fertile in these areas as the water was allowed to seep in. These regions had successful wheat crop despite the deficient monsoon this year. The real solution lies in the decentralized and community-based water preservation.

The right to use water should lie with the common people and not the industrialists. We will have to raise awareness regarding water conservation among the masses and give them their due rights. We have transformed as many as 1,200 villages in Rajasthan through such efforts.

Q: How do you see the future if the current policies are not

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