Monday, February 05, 2007

Water Woes

Water Woes
After a long wait, Cauvery tribunal gave its verdict in one of the longest running water disputes of the world, and it is not going to solve the problem. Regardless of which way the verdict went, one of the party would have been aggrieved and its the turn of Karnataka this time. But, if the past is any indication, Karnataka wouldn't abide this verdict and would find some way to appeal or dilly dally. The solution for this and similar problems is not with the courts or tribunals but with Indian political leadership and their long term vision.

Tamil Nadu is a perennially water starved and has water related issue with all its neighbors. If it is Cauvery with Karnataka and Palar with Andhra Pradesh, it is Mullai Periyar with Kerala. Every state will and justifiably so will look for its own parochial ends before they would release even one liter of water.

So, what is the solution?
It is not going to come easy and not before more bloodshed and economic loss. But, solution can be found if Indian political leaders put their mind to it and set aside parochial and short term views. One solution that has been discussed for several decades is the grandiose national water grid. But if that is too big to take on, then let there be some regional or even intra state linkage of rivers.

Of course, this is not going to solve the problem overnight and not even over couple of years, but as they say "thousand mile journey starts with one step at a time".

This water problem is not only amongst states but also between countries. India has water sharing issues with both Pakistan and Bangladesh. In fact, it is predicted that the future wars will over over water resources which is becoming scarce and in some countries already costlier than gas (petrol).

So, it would augur well for the Indian states to act in a matured way and not let anger hijack the emotive issue, as it would only lead to human and economic loss. Schools and IT establishments have already been shut leading to economic loss, but I hope it stops there and not get in to blood letting and mayhem. That would only lead to further animosity and ill will and not solve the problem in anyway.


  1. Good point.
    One more alternative is to look for Sea water desalination.

    I am clueless why this option is not actively sought for.

  2. Arvind
    There has been some noise about desalination.. but it got stuck in political rivalry of DMK & AIADMK and is not going anywhere..
    a good one to consider seriously though..

  3. Developed countries create an infrastructure with Drainage, water recycling and purification along with roads and utilities before allowing human settlement in any area. In India our cities are designed only after human settlement.

    Because of the geometrical increase in population during the baby boomer time and the consequent multitude of problems, India was caught off guard. But recent efforts to improve in all areas of human miseries are commendable. Patience, embodiment of trust and hope, is necessary and let us all be part of solution. Conserve, Conserve and Conserve are the three words that come to mind in case of water, utilities and essential items that pose grave situation in India.

    Treatment of Ocean/Sea water for human use would have happened if it is economical in cost and healthy for use. While I am certain many countries may be making tests to prove this point, we may not be any closer in this effort at this point in time.


  4. Raman
    My take is India should try to find solutions to problems rather than taking the 'excuse' route..

    Water problem is a global one and even crosses national boundaries.. between India & Bangladesh, India & Pakistan, Israel & Palestine etc. If this inter country problems are intractable, India should at least try to solve the Intra country water problem.

    States like Tamil Nadu are perennially water starved and it is incumbent up on the federal and the state government to find a lasting solution which in some cases have been dragging on decades.