Water allocated for agriculture diverted to industries

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 10 Desember 2013 | 22.24

MUMBAI: Recent revelations have indicated that the water originally allocated for the state's agriculture, is being snatched by, and used for big industries and metro cities, without the knowledge of the farmers, said Lokabhimukh Paani dhoran Sangharsh Manch.

Between 2003 and 2011 - within a span of eight years -- the High Power Committee (HPC) on Water, presided by the then water resource minister, allowed 1983 cubic metre water to be diverted to large industries and metro cities. As a result, the state has lost nearly 3.25 lakh hectares of irrigable land ever since. "In other words, farmers have been deprived of water rightfully meant for irrigation of 3.25 lakh hectares of their farmland," it said.

The Manch analysed the expenses incurred on irrigation restructuring- specifically for non-irrigation purposes- and found that these funds have not been used for the benefit of farmers but for compensating the cost of building canals. "Besides, it seems that the HPC, while allocating water to industries, have blatantly disregarded all rules and regulations that govern the issue of water allocation in the state, including the rights given to the autonomous Maharashtra Water Resource Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) Act set up in 2005," it said.

The HPC's decision to divert water meant for agriculture to industries invited fierce opposition from locals at many places. Several farmers' associations started movements in the vicinity of various dam including the Upper Wardha, Amba, Hetawane, Gangapur dams. Specific cases have been challenged in high courts and separate litigations have been filed with the MWRRA over the past years.

The Manch has demaded that each and every person in the river basin, including single women, female family heads, Dalits, Adivasis and landless families, must be granted rights over water, essential for their survival (drinking, cooking and health purpose) and agriculture, which constitute their fundamental rights to life and livelihood. "Water snatched from agriculture to date, should be returned to the farmers. All the reservations of water made between 2003 and 2011 to industry must be cancelled and the water should be reallocated to agriculture," it said.

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