|Ecology and The Politics of Survival:Conflicts Over Natural Resources in India|
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|Part Two :Water Conflicts|
The capacity to divert rivers from their natural course increased dramatically in the post-colonial period with the transfer of technology of large dams from the US. The Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers were in competition with each other and created a new culture of gigantism, financed by public money. In Reisner's words, 'what had begun as an emergency program to put the country back to work, to restore its sense of self-worth, to settle the refugees of the Dust Bowl, grew into a nature wrecking, money-eating monster that our leaders lacked the courage or ability to stop. Interest groups have mushroomed around the building of large dams, and their interests are in conflict with those of indigenous populations and ecologists. As Barnett has observed,
Public water projects-dams, reservoirs, irrigation pipelines, schemes for rerouting streams and a host of other feats of engineering-are viewed by proponents-usually the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who build them, politicians looking for federal money, and large agribusiness interests and power companies, which directly benefit from them-as modern wonders of the world. Opponents-environmentalists, Indian tribes whose land is taken or ruined, and cost-conscious politicians and bureaucrats denounce the implantation of huge concrete waterworks in the midst of America's wilderness and the accompanying hydraulic technologies as the worst examples of pork barrel politics and extravagant wasted
When the technological euphoria of dam building was transferred to India, the concomitants of ecological disruption and social conflicts were also transferred. These conflicts and destruction are more aggravated in India than the havoc caused in the American West because India is a riparian civilization which has evolved in a monsoon climate. Most of India's river valleys are highly populated and rivers have provided the primary life-support systems for our riparian settlements. Large dams, intensive irrigation and large diversions have, therefore, been associated with three types of conflicts. The first type is related to large-scale displacement and uprooting of people from their ancestral homelands leading to ecological refugees. This conflict, which originally expressed itself through human rights struggles based on the violation of rights of displaced people, has now taken an e cological turn, with human rights issues being perceived as intimately linked with ecological issues. The second type of conflict related to water projects arises from the ecological impact of impounding large quantities of water, transporting it across drainage boundaries and using it for intensive irrigation. Displaced people are, of course, in direct conflict with those who benefit from large dams and massive irrigation systems. However, when dams and canals cause waterlogging, even the 'beneficiaries' fight against state planned water projects.
Changes in water flows create changes upstream as well as downstream. Such changes generate conflicts not merely between the people and the state, but also between different communities and different states. The third type of conflict which is an outcome of large river diversions is regional conflict over water rights. Interests of people of different regions are articulated through regional governments, and regional conflicts take the form of inter-state conflicts over the sharing of river waters.
The Krishna river, one of the most important rivers of South India, was chosen for the ecological analysis of conflicts over river waters since it traverses through the most arid and drought prone regions in South India and there are intense and diverse demands for its water from different regions for diverse uses.
Water Conflicts in the Krishna Basin
The east flowing krishna river originates in the mahadev range of the western ghats, north of the hill station of Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra, and after flowing over a distance of about 1,40(1 km it meets the Bay of Bengal, south of Vijayawada. In between its origin at 1,337 metres above the MSL and its delta, the river fows across the entire width of the Indian peninsula through the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
The Krishna river is joined in its course by a large number of tributaries, big and small, draining a total basin area of about 256,000 sq km of which the share of the three riparian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh is 26.8 per cent, 43.8 per cent and 29.4 per cent, respectively. The basin drains a length of approximately 700 km of the Western Ghats which is the predominant source of water of the river. As the river flows about 135 km from its origin near Mahabaleshwar Hills, it is joined by the Koyna river flowing from the western side of the same hill. Further along its course. it is joined by tributaries like Varna, Panchaganga and Dodhganga draining about 150 km of the Western Ghats. As the river emerges from the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, it is joined by Ghataprabha and Malaprabha from the south at a distance of approximately 500 km from the origin. After traversing the Deccan proper the east flowing Krishna then enters the alluvial lands and at a distance of about 800 km from the source, just before it enters Andhra Pradesh, a major tributary Bhima, draining the Western Ghats, north of Mahabaleshwar joins it from the north. Near Kurnool the river is joined by another major tributary, Tungabhadra from the south, draining a major section of the Western Ghats in Karnataka. Within a short distance from this confluence, the river enters the Naliamali Ranges characterised by peep gorges. At this place the Srisailam Dam and further downstream the Nagarjunasagar Dam have been constructed. At this point the major water sources of the Western Ghats have all been united. Tributaries like Dindi, Musi, Palleru and Muneru draining the dry north-eastern parts of the basin join the river between Srisailam ad Vijayawada but do not add much water. Below Vijayawada, where the Krishna is blocked by the barrage constructed during the British period, the river spreads out into the delta and below the last major village Nagailanka it joins the Bay of Bengal in three branches, thus ending the long eastward journey of the waters of the Western Ghats.
Since water flow creates an interconnectedness within the basin, each intervention in land and water use, depending on its scale, can become the source of conflicts. The mining of iron ore at Kudremukh and Manganese ore in Sandur in the upper catchments of Tungabhadra has seriously affected the stability of the catchment and has led to severe soil erosion and silting of the Tungabhadra reservoir, thus conflicting with irrigation needs. The Krishna river system has a large number of small, medium and major dams starting from Dhom which is located within 5 km of its origin. This storage and diversion of water from the original river course has destroyed the fishing economy which was dominant on both banks of the river as well as the indigenous irrigation system that existed throughout the course of the river. Further, large dams have also generated conflicts by creating waterlogging in the command areas. The hydroelectric power generation from the river water has come into conflict with irrigation needs both in terms of the spatial and temporal characteristics of water storage and distribution. The maximisation of power generation from Koyna demands that the water of the Krishna basin, draining into Bay of Bengal, be diverted to the Arabian Sea.
Industrial uses of the river system are a major source of conflict. For example, the pulp based industries on Tungabhadra have polluted the river and destroyed the fishing economy 20 km downstream. Moreover, the large-scale cultivation of pulpwood species like Eucalyptus in this part of the basin has impaired the groundwater recharge potential.
In the Krishna basin comprising mostly of arid and semi-arid regions water management had reached a high level of sophistication, both for surface as well as groundwater utilisation. An aerial view of the basin reveals a network of a large number of tanks, some pre-historic, others constructed by the local people or the rulers at different times in history. In general the technology used for all these tanks involved the construction of an earthen embankment at the exit of a natural water collection point that is a result of topography. These tanks were used for surface irrigation of approximately 500 acres of land as well as for enhancing ground water recharge to support the wells. These tanks formed a network so that water did not drain out easily and was conserved at the site. To some extent indigenous water management techniques also included the diversion of streams to irrigate land by canals. The total number of tanks in the basin may be around 30,000. By arresting the scanty rainfall, these tanks actually provided a cushioning effect against variations in rainfall which is common in the basin. This decentralised water conservation system met both drinking water and agricultural needs. There was no major long distance transfer of water and the local cropping pattern evolved in accordance with the local water endowment.
The needs of the Vijayanagar Empire led to the first major intervention in the natural water flow. In the sixteenth century, specially during the reign of King Krishnadevaraya, there were many attempts to divert the water of Tungabhadra through seven canals in the Bellary district, these are now known as the Vijayanagar Canals. The canals provided water for irrigation as well as satisfied the needs of the large army stationed in the capital city of Hampi. The interests of the Vijayanagar rulers were not limited to canals. Understanding the crucial role of tanks in food production as well as in providing drinking water supply, the kingdom undertook a systematic programme of tank construction. The Daroji tank and the Vyasayaraya Samudram in Cuddapah district are the result of this programme.
The first large-scale intervention in the natural flow of water in the Krishna river basin was seen in the late nineteenth century. It was motivated both by the irrigation needs of export crops like cotton and groundnut, as well as for transporting these products easily to major ports like Madras. The Krishna delta canal system based on the Vijayawada barrage was constructed in 1855 The Nira Canal in Maharashtra was constructed in 1835 to irrigate about 150,000 acres and the Kurnool Cuddapah Canal was constructed in 1886 to irrigate 100,000 acres. With the passage of time. an increasing number of government aided large and medium projects came up and today the Krishna river has numerous dams including the Dhom Dam which is at a distance of 5 km from its source. Midstream, we find the Alamatti and Narayanpur Dams of the Upper Krishna Project while further downstream Srisailam and Nagarjunsugar Dams generate electricity and divert water for irrigation.The tributaries have also been used extensively in this respect.
The Koyna Dam is situated 58 km below the origin of the river. The Tunga river is impounded at Gajanur and Bhadra at Lakavalli. The Tunga and Bhadra meet and the Tungabhadra Dam is located 265 km from the origin. In Ghataprabha the reservoir at Hidkal in Karnataka is the major irrigation project while Malaprabha is impounded at the peacock gorge near Manoli. The spread of water-intensive cultivation throughout the basin has dramatically altered the water balance, leading to major conflicts between water for cash crop cultivation and staple food production on the one hand, and between irrigation and drinking water needs on the other. The case of sugarcane cultivation in Maharashtra and grapes in Hyderabad are two instances of over-exploitation of water resources in the basin for cash crop production and a consequent destabilisation of the water cycle, leading to water scarcity in large parts of the basin.
Dams for irrigation and/or power are also a source of conflict between the traditional rights of people to land and water and the rights of the state to displace and uproot them for building river valley projects as in the case of Srisailam Dam. Large dams require massive submergence areas, and hence necessitate the displacement of large numbers of people. Big dams also allow large diversions of water. Major diversions from the river basin as in the case of the Telugu-Ganga Canal taking off from Srisailam Dam, affect the riparian rights of the states and have generated unresolvable inter-state conflicts.
Dams and Displacement: Conflicts Generated by Srisailam Dam
The krishna, like other rivers of india has been reversed by the people srisailam is the most sacred pilgrim spot on the Krishna. It is named alter the Srisailam temple situated amidst rich forests on the banks of the river. The Krishna flows 3 km below the Srisailam temple which is dedicated to LOrd Shiva. In 1960. this ancient temple gave way to a temple of modern India Srisailam Dam.
'the Srisailam project began in 1960, initially as a power project, across the Krishna, near Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh. After several delays, the main dam was finally completed twenty years later in 1981. In the meantime the project was converted into a multipurpose one with a generating capacity of 770 MWs by its second stage which was expected to be completed in 1987. The dam is to provide water for an estimated 4,95,000 acres with its catchment area of 79,553 sq miles and water spread of 238 sq miles. Under the right branch canal 1,95,000 acres in Kurnool and Cuddapah districts will have assured irrigation. From the initial modest estimate of Rs. 38.47 crores for a power project the total cost of the multipurpose project was estimated to cross Rs. 1,000 crores in its enlarged form. The 470 feet high and 1,680 feet wide dam has alone cost Rs. 404 crores together with the installation of four generating sets of 110 MWs each. The right branch canal is estimated to cost Rs. 449 crores and the initial investment of Rs. 140 crores has been provided by the World Bank. The projected cost-benefit ratio of the project has been worked out at 1:1.91 at 10 per cent interest on capital outlay.
The construction of the project has meant the submergence of 106,925 acres of land belonging to 117 villages (100 main and 17 hamlets). Of these villages, spread over six taluks of Kurnool and Mahaboobnagar districts. seventy-two were completely submerged and ten were partially submerged (see Annexure l). A total of 27,871 families in these villages living in 21,080 dwellings had to be evacuated: resettlement had to be provided for nearly 158,00 people.
In the summer of 1981, shocked by the brutal and inhuman manner in which people were thrown out of their homes by the government with the assistance of police, bulldozers and workers from the town, a Lokayan team in Andhra Pradesh carried out a survey of the problem of the evictees in July-August 1981. The survey aimed at:
A second survey was carried out in 1984-85 covering nine of the villages included in the earlier sample survey as part of the UN University project on Conflicts over Natural Resources. The questions that prompted the second survey were:
A summary of the two reports highlighting the tragedy of the situation is presented here. It raises several important questions not only related to economics and development but to ethics as well.
Socio-economic conditions of the people before the evictions
The soils of the river bank are very fertile and mostly black or red in colour. Farmers have been cultivating them for generations, if not centuries, growing a multiple variety of crops ranging from food crops like rice, jowar and other millets to cash crops like tobacco, chill), groundnut, vegetables, onions, mustard and wheat. The river bed was also cultivated in the dry season, especially by the weaker sections, harvesting a rich crop of water melons.
Overwhelmingly (81 per cent of the sample), the population in the region belongs to the weaker sections of society, i.e., the Scheduled Castes (14 per cent) and Backward Castes (67 per cent). As in other regions of the country, the Scheduled Castes are concentrated among the small and marginal farmers (66 per cent) and landless labourers (20 per cent). Backward Castes are predominant in all classes but are most numerous among those involved in non-agricultural occupations (84 per cent). Among the other castes Reddys are predominant. People of other castes are more concentrated in the upper classes. They account for 42 per cent of the big farmers but only 5 per cent of the agricultural labourers. Of the total number of households, 17 per cent were those of big farmers, 16 per cent of middle farmers, 36 per cent of small and marginal farmers, and 17 per cent of agricultural labourers. We have classified those people as big farmers who owned more than 10 acres of wet lands' middle farmers as those owning between 5 to 9.99 acres, small as those owning between 2.5 to 4.99 acres, marginal as those owning between 0.1 to 2.49 acres. Two acres of dry land has been assumed to be equivalent to 1 acre of wet land based on the income generated.
In addition to agriculture, small and marginal farmers are also involved in several subsidiary occupations such as sheep and goat rearing, toddy tapping, weaving, fishing and plying dinghies across the river. Those belonging to service caste groups like barbers and washermen tried to supplement their income from their caste occupation by working on land either as small or tenant farmers or agricultural labourers. The proportion of agricultural labourers is comparatively low in these villages, because the poorer sections of the population are engaged in the cultivation of poromboke and manyam (waste) lands.
The average size of the displaced family was found to be around seven in both sample surveys (census figure: 5.33). One interesting feature was that big farmer households had an average size of ten members per family, perhaps there were more joint families among them.
Draught power provided by bullocks appeared to be adequate in these villages. In addition to cows and buffaloes, a majority of households also reared sheep, goats and fowls. In view of the prosperous agriculture in these areas, employment prospects were particularly good, in the sense that people could secure employ ment for approximately 250 days in a year. In addition, there was immigrant labour from neighbouring areas during the peak seasons. The average annual income per household was approximately Rs. 8,000 with a minimum of Rs. 2,000 and a maximum of Rs. 150,000.
Since stone is available in plenty and owing to the relative prosperity of the region, most of the houses, including those of the poor and landless (81 per cent in the second sample), were made of stone and were quite spacious, although they were old.
From the data it is evident that though the region is relatively prosperous, it is not very different from other parts of rural India in terms of complacency regarding caste and class. Economic power is largely concentrated in the hands of the 'other castes' (Reddys in this region). The leaders in these villages are drawn from the 'other castes' (Reddys and Velamas), and they exercise tremendous influence on the people in the village. They also maintain close links with government officials in towns and with other important individuals. Often villages are divided into various factional groups following One leader or the other. All these factors had their respective impact on the entire process of displacement and rehabilitation.
One important factor that needs to be noted here is that for one generation, i.e., twenty years (1960 to 1980, i.e., till their eviction) no significant developmental activities were undertaken in the submergible areas since logically the whole area would be under water 'very soon'. The people of this region therefore had to do without electricity, proper roads, school buildings and other government asset building activities.
Keeping in view some of the problems encountered in trying to rehabilitate people displaced by developmental projects, the g,overnment of Andhra. Pradesh decided to pay compensation in cash, a policy initiated with the Pochampad project in the late sixties. Compensation was assessed for lands, wells and houses. Acquisition began in July 1969 and 1,829 acres of land was acquired. But this process was stopped almost immediately due to non-availability of funds and the areas notified for acquisition were once again denotified. Acquisition was resumed in 1974 and completed by 198(), in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (and several resolutions adopted and recommendations made at meetings of the Srisailam Control Board and the government). Compensation was paid for 84,772.55 acres out of a total of 107,348 acres submerged. The rest of the land was either government wasteland, or government land assigned to the poor or forest land constituting 2() per cent of the total submerged area which was not compensated for.
Drawing upon the registered value of sale/purchase of land which is normally much lower than the actual price (to avoid higher stamp duty) and the fact that the acquisition and payment of money were long drawn out affairs, they had the net effect of offering very low prices for the properties acquired. The average price paid for dry lands was Rs. 1,820 per acre, whereas the prevailing market rate for reasonably good dry land was Rs. 10,000 per acre in 1981. Similarly, compensation paid for wet land was on an average Rs. 3,547.05 per acre while the market value was around Rs. 20,000 per acre, i.e., the compensation paid between 1974 and 1980 was only one-fifth of the market value of land at the time of eviction.
Similarly, in the case of dwellings, the government acquired 21,080 houses which sheltered 28,234 families of eighty-two villages out of a total of 117 villages affected by submersion. This amount was paid after making allowance for factors like depreciation since most of the houses were very old. The average amount paid per house was around Rs. 5,500 whereas constructing similar houses would have cost the inhabitants over four times (Rs. 20.000) as borne out by the actual expenditure on new housing after eviction, which will be discussed later.
Despite such gross injustice few people approached the courts since majority of them were illiterate and without any means. Further, the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 deals with people on an individual basis, fixing a time limit of 6 weeks from the date of receipt of notice or 6 months from the date of award, whichever expires earlier, for filing objections, and only if the amount of compensation has been accepted under protest in writing.
As the surveys revealed, very few people bought any land with the compensation money paid to them. For every 100 acres of wet land submerged only 1 acre of new land was purchased. Similarly in the case of dry land, barely 8 acres was purchased for every 100 acres lost.
Why did the people not buy lands? What did they do with the money received as compensation?.
The result was that barely 4 per cent of the evictees actually bought land with their compensation money (using either a part of it or the whole amount). Another 20 per cent used the money to build new houses after eviction, 26 per cent utilised the money to clear old debts, and 50 per cent used the money for various domestic needs such as marriages, clothing, food. death ceremonies and education. Therefore, the claim that the compensation money paid to the displaced people was squandered by them in drinking and gambling is very much disputable (though the number of people indulging in such activities may have gone up after receiving the compensation money).
Similarly, in the case of compensation paid for dwellings which were submerged, only 19 per cent of the evictees utilised the money to build new houses, 32 per cent used it to repay old debts, and 40 per cent used the money for various domestic needs such as food, clothing and marriages. Barely 3 per cent invested money in agriculture. Those who invested in agriculture are largely big farmers (12 per cent of the category) and middle farmers (3 per cent of the category).
It may be mentioned here, that the moneylender-landlords collected their dues (of old debts at exorbitant interests) as soon as the compensation money was sanctioned for the dwellings of the poor even before they could lay their hands on it. Second, as most of the poor people (predominantly belonging to Harijan caste) were cultivating government lands or government assigned lands they were not paid any compensation for the loss of these lands.
In this manner, having exhausted the little compensation money that they finally received, with no apparent understanding of what submersions meant, unwilling to desert their sacred temples and places where for generations, if not centuries, they had been residing, and with absolutely no plans for resettling elsewhere they continued to reside in their old villages in mutual reassurance ignoring all warnings of the government officials. To add to their confidence, the government also did not initiate any action to demolish government property such as schools and panchayat buildings and other offices and structures.
The eviction trauma
The people were rudely shaken out of their complacence soon after the completion of the dam in the summer of 1981. When repeated warnings failed to dislodge the villagers the government realised that until and unless the houses and huts were demolished, the people would not vacate the villages. The officers and staff of the Departments of Revenue and Irrigation and Power along with hired labourers from the towns and a large contingent of police undertook the demolition work. They completely demolished the houses by knocking down ceilings and walls, and removing door and window frames. Demolition of huts was carried on with much more vigour and zeal. Utensils and other belongings were thrown out, cattle were let loose and people were driven out-hounded out of their own homes like stray cattle in one big swoop. People had never seen anything like this. The authorities used simple tools like crow bars and pick axes and bulldozers in the operation. The ruthless actions of the authorities shocked the people who were already distressed at the thought of having to leave their homes. The officials did not show any regard and respect for people. People complained to the research team that the officials were very repressive in their actions. An old woman in Relampadu village bitterly weeping, reported to the committee that her ankle and her right hand were fractured when she was dragged out from her hut by the police. The government brutality created panic among the people. Strong resentment against the behaviour of the officials was vocalised by people in every village that the research team visited. Very few families were provided with the promised free transport to the new sites chosen by the villagers. People complained that they had to pay money even for this facility. As a result, majority of the evictees had to carry their belongings on their heads. Without transport, almost all the evicted families had to leave a part of their belongings in the villages. This traumatic experience was repeated in most of the eighty-two villages facing full or partial submersion.
Life after evictions
Leaving their lands. houses and sometimes even utensils in the evacuated areas, the villagers were orphaned overnight. Unemployment stared them in the face. The idea of settling down in a new place made them feel like 'aliens'. Insecurity and uncertainty about the future further aggravated the problem. Added to this were the appalling living conditions in the new areas. With no basic civic amenities, life became very difficult. The primary responsibility of any civilised government in such a situation is to provide at least basic amenities to the displaced people, especially when they are in distress and emotionally disturbed. Cash compensation, far too inadequate, was the only one-point rehabilitation programme the government had envisaged.
As compensation was paid in 'full', it was the responsibility of the evacuees to fend for themselves. The callousness of the government became apparent when the evacuees who had savings had to take their own initiative to buy land for houses from private land-owners. They had to pay exhorbitant rates for the new land as land was scarce and the demand was high.
By and large, the evacuees succeeded in 'settling' down in areas near the old villages. The research team also observed that an entire village did not settle down in the new place as one unit. Each village resettled in more than one cluster. Each village leader and landlord had his own following. Some people went along with a group as they could get house sites at reasonable prices. Labourers went along with big farmers to whom they were attached earlier. Old village rivalries continued and rival groups moved into different settlements. The grouping in the new settlements was also based on caste lines. The Scheduled Castes were segregated and settled in separate quarters. Backward Castes congregated on the sume lines as before eviction.
The research team which visited the villages soon after the evictions in July-August found the life of the villagers in the new settlements pathetic. Those who possessed stone houses earlier were forced to live in huts. Of course, there were a few stone houses. People were either building houses or were idle. Drinking water continued to be a problem. No bore wells had been dug in several settlements and in many cases there was no water source near by. The team observed that groups of people would discuss their future work prospects and livelihood, looking morose and depressed. Their clothing was inadequate and invariably unwashed. People cursed the government for driving them to destitution. An angry young man told the team that he would like to see the Srisailam Dam bombed.
Several representations were made to the government at various levels by the people, their representatives, the Lokayan team and civil rights organisations arid demonstrations were held, but all to no avail. Apart from some marginal benefits like providing house sites and electricity and Rs. 1,000 to each member of the weaker sections, the government did precious little by way of creating new avenues of livelihood for these people.
A second survey by the Lokayan team in November 1984, three years after the evictions, found the people to be worse off.
The immediate need of the people after eviction was housing. When the money given as compensation for their dwellings had already been spent where did the evictees get money to construct their new houses? Almost 70 per cent of the people reported that they had borrowed money. Another 7 per cent had either used their savings or sold some assets. With the inadequate materials and money provided by the government (supposed to be Rs. 1,000 worth) and some materials from their old homes, about 5 per cent of the weaker sections built their huts.
What is surprising is that people spent substantive amounts in building their new houses though the number of stone houses was reduced from 81 per cent to only 53 per cent and were smaller in size, the number of thatched houses went up by 218 per cent. The average cost of construction was around Rs. 16,000 varying from Rs. 5,000 in the case of agricultural labourers to Rs. 40,000 in the case of big farmers. When asked why they did not try to buy land with the compensation money some of the evictees replied: 'First we need a place of shelter'. The idea that they would be permanently losing their lands did not dawn on them till much later. They attempted building houses similar to their old houses and had to spend a lot of money and resources. Ironically, after taking all the trouble and incurring huge debts, most of them had to travel to distant places in search of work as the remaining lands of the village, if any. could not support the same large population. Further, not being used to living in thatched huts led to several fire accidents in the new settlements forcing people to build their houses all over again. Another point that needs to be mentioned here is that the cost of construction increased enormously due to the pressure of so many trying to build their houses at the same time.
Land, Income and Work
As stated earlier, 64 per cent of the lands in the sampled villages were submerged. Category-wise, 84 per cent of wet lands, 59 per cent of dry lands and 90 per cent of wastelands were submerged. Class-wise, big farmers lost 56 per cent of their lands, middle farmers 69 per cent, and small and marginal farmers, 80 per cent of their lands. Of the lands now remaining after submergence, 70 per cent were owned by big farmers (as against 60 per cent in the old villages). The share of middle farmers decreased from 16 per cent to 11 per cent and of small and marginal farmers from 15 per cent to 11 per cent. In other words, dependence on big farmers in terms of loans, etc. had increased after submersions. Further, there was drought for two successive years following the eviction. With most of the lands submerged, the income and employment prospects of people decreased drastically. The average income in the villages surveyed declined from Rs. 9,116 to Rs. 2,347 per annum per family, i.e., a reduction of 74 per cent. As an average this of course hides the extremities such as the situation in villages like Beeravolu and Sanharenipalli where all the land was lost. The submergence of fertile lands forced the fanners to shift from commercial crops to subsistence crops on the remaining lands. They now cultivate mostly rice and millets instead of tobacco and chilliest The latter also require heavy investment. Lands acquired by the government were still being cultivated wherever possible but due to the construction of crest gates and untimely rains, the standing crop in some of the submergible areas was lost.
While initially some people were employed in the construction of houses at the new sites as well as in building roads, the average employment decreased from 256 days per year to 59 days per year, forcing people to migrate or trek long distances in search of work.
The drastic change in circumstances had forced most of the displaced people into debt. The number of people without debts dropped sharply from 38 per cent in the old villages to only 9 per cent in the new villages. Interestingly, while 67 per cent of the agricultural labourers reported that they had no debts in the old villages, the number dropped sharply to 9 per cent in the new settlements. This only confirms our earlier explanation that most people paid off their past debts with the compensation money they received. On an average, the debt per family increased from Rs. 4,810 to Rs. 12.462, i.e., an increase of 259 per cent in three years. In the case of agricultural labourers the increase was fivefold rising from Rs. 949 to Rs. 4,771. Debts of small and marginal farmers doubled. while those of middle farmers rose one and a half times from Rs. 6,903 in the old villages to Rs. 10,000 in the new villages. Debts of large farmers also rose sharply from Rs. 10,500 per family on an average to Rs. 32,279. As mentioned earlier, the sharp increase in debts was largely due to the expenses incurred in building new houses. The question remains: who could have given credit to the displaced people despite their worsening conditions?
As mentioned earlier, most people had repaid their past debts with the compensation money they received. A substantial proportion of this money may have been in the villages with some of the large farmers-moneylenders and therefore people may not have been compelled to seek credit from external sources. A more important reason, apart from the availability of money within the villages, was the fact that almost all the displaced families had filed cases in the court claiming higher compensation. The courts had invariably enhanced the amount of compensation to be paid to the evictees. Having realised this, the big farmers and moneylenders had given loans liberally to the displaced people. The rate of interest on 9() per cent of the loans given was 24 per cent. The main reason that the rate of interest remained constant at 24 per cent and was not increased despite the urgency and demand and dire circumstances may be due to the fact that the creditors in the villages were Rushed with compensation money in the form of recovered loans.
The survey revealed that cattle wealth of the people was reduced to less than half of what it was in the old villages. The number of cows were reduced by 64 per cent, female buffaloes by 5() per cent, male buffaloes by 78 per cent, sheep by 74 per cent and goats by 86 per cent. Poultry was reduced by 61 per cent. Even bullocks which are so essential for cultivation had gone down by 38 per cent. Looking at this class-wise, the landless appeared to have suffered the most, having lost 91 per cent of their cows, 79 per cent of their bulls, all the sheep they possessed, 91 per cent of goats and 61 per cent of their poultry. The relative decrease in different species of animals clearly revealed that depending on the necessity, the displaced people had been selling their cattle one by one. People are less directly dependent on goats and male buffaloes, than on bullocks and to an extent on cows and female buffaloes. While the situation varied from village to village, the desperation of the people is well exemplified by the case of Gudem village which consists predominantly of a sheep rearing community (Gollas). There has been a decline from 2,580 sheep in the old village to just 706, i.e., a decrease of 73 per cent. The variations between villages with regard to decrease in cattle wealth is also dependent on the extent to which lands have been submerged and the specific occupations of the villagers. Broadly, there appear to be three distinct reasons for the decline in cattle wealth of the evictees:
The same trend was discernible in the case of agricultural implements. Farmers of this area do not appear to have been using modern agricultural equipment such as tractors and pumpsets. Bullock carts' one of the key elements of Indian agriculture, declined by 37 per cent. Of the nine oil engines in the old villages only three were left. While one tractor was sold, two new tractors were purchased by big farmers-cum-contractors. Several farmers mentioned that they had sold many of their agricultural implements to make both ends meet.
A quick look at the non-agricultural occupations completes the dismal picture.
POTTERS: Due to the submersion of land the old sources of mud and clay have been eroded. Following the loss of their lands and unable to sustain themselves on pottery alone, some of the potters were forced to trek long distances in search of work as labourers. Moreover, due to the submersion of their lands and displacement, the income of the villagers has been drastically reduced and hence their demand for pots may have also been reduced considerably.
WASHEIMEN: No distinctive change was observable in their condition.
BARBERS: With the loss of their lands, cutting hair was their only means of survival. According to one barber from Sankarenipally (Nandikothur taluk, Kurnool district), due to the displacement of several villages nearby and dispersal of the population over a wide area, the barbers from these villages were 'coming to our village so that we now have more barbers and less work'.
STONE WORKERS: Wadders were very busy due to the sudden spurt in construction activity in the new settlements.
TODDY TAPPERS: Following the submersion of land most of the toddy trees over which they had traditional claims were lost and they were therefore reduced to complete dependence on agricultural labour for survival.
FISHERMEN: Most of them used to make a living by plying dinghies, carrying people and cattle across the Krishna. During summer they would cultivate water melons in the river bed and also fish in the river using small nets. With the increase in the volume of water in the Krishna and with no prospect of it drying up in any season they were unable to ply their dinghies most of the time. Nor did they possess the boats, nets and skills necessary for deep water fishing while water melon cultivation in summer was out of the question. Of late, however, several people, not necessarily fishermen, had turned to fishing in a big way using massive nets and boats. But the market was monopoIised by some businessmen from the neighbouring State of Tamil Nadu with little profit accruing to the fishermen.
CARPENTERS: were also in great demand due to the spurt in construction activity despite the fact that people used the beams and door and window frames of their erstwhile dwellings in the construction of their new houses.
LEATHER WORKERS: They had to supplement their meagre earnings by engaging in daily wage labour even in the old villages, which they continued even in the new settlements. Although one cobbler of Vellatoor (Mollapur taluk, Mahboobnagar district) said that he had practically given up his profession after shifting to the new village (perhaps the earnings were too meagre).
WEAVERS: Several villages in the vicinity had a long handloom tradition. Villages like Pragatur (Alampur taluk, Mahboobnagar district) were mostly inhabited by handloom weavers, who combined weaving with agriculture. The loss of agricultural lands has forced them to increasingly depend on handloom weaving. Many of the weavers interviewed by the team complained of lack of capital to begin their weaving activities again.
OTHERS: Shopkeepers, teachers, post office personnel, priests, etc. complained that loss of their lands had forced them to depend almost exclusively on their present occupations.
In short, only those connected with construction activity like masons, stone cutters and carpenters prospered at the new settlements, as also small time contractors who had taken contracts for various public works, like laying roads, constructing drains and panchayat bhavans. While the government had thought of compensation for houses and lands only, it does not seem to have taken into account a whole range of activities which are not directly dependent on agriculture as described above resulting in enormous distress to families involved in these occupations.
Government measures at the new sites
After forcibly driving people out of their homes and making them destitutes in May-June 1981, pressure exerted by the evictees, and witnessing the enormous difficulties of the people themselves prompted the government to ameliorate their condition to some extent:
Under this programme a sum of Rs. 2.80 crores was spent between April 1981 and March 1985, i.e., ever since the forcible evictions took place. This works out to an average of Rs. 70 lakhs per annum for four years. For the eighty-two displaced villages this works out to a pittance. In addition a sum of Rs. 3 crores was allotted for shifting sixty-two of the several temples and other religious monuments likely to be submerged.
Based on the first Lokayan report, the World Bank, which has emerged as the prime financier of the remaining part of the project, insisted on the proper rehabilitation of the displaced, but was easily satisfied with these meagre measures of physical rehabilitation undertaken by the state government. This is understandable since ultimately the Bank is more interested in lending money than in looking after the welfare of the victims of development sponsored by it.
What is surprising is the totally callous attitude of the authonties, the so-called 'experts' and even the people's 'representatives' to the need of these displaced people, viz., employment or a permanent source of livelihood.
Sucked deeper and deeper into the whirlpool of destitution, as is quite evident from the surveys, with nobody to help them there was a ray of hope in the form of lawyers from the nearby towns.
Lawyers' and higher compensation
As stated earner, the evictees though dissatisfied with the compensation awarded for the acquisition of their properties were ignorant of the law and its nuances. Moreover, few of them had the means to approach courts. At this juncture, especially in Mahboobnagar district, a few lawyers went round the villages, assessed the situation and prepared a scheme to extract greater compensation from the government.
They collected all the documents regarding the acquisition, the title deeds, the notifications, etc. as also signatures/humb impressions on a white paper.
They discussed the problem with the revenue officials at all levels, bribed them adequately if not substantially and had entire records changed, as if the people had protested and as if the government for various reasons had delayed in bringing the matter to the notice of the court. In some cases they appealed directly to the High Court, to review the compensation awards on humanitarian grounds as the people were not served notices properly (in most villages the notices remained with the village officials) and were illiterate and ignorant. Such collective writs were admitted by the High Court. The floodgates were opened. A group of ten to fifteen lawyers from Mahboobnagar Court and six or seven from the Kurnool District Court, mostly junior lawyers, took up the cases in a few villages in their areas of operation. Starting with a fee of 15 per cent of the amount of enhanced compensation to be awarded by the court, they soon raised it to 30 35 per cent and in some cases to even SO per cent. Sometimes, the villagers complained that they were not even informed as to how much the court had actually awarded and the amount deducted as fees. But the lawyers argued that they did not receive more than 5 to 10 per cent as their fees. When the elders from these villages heard that lawyers were taking up these cases, several of them, particularly village officials, i.e., karnams/patwaris and even professional pyraveekars (touts) of the villages flocked to the lawyers. These middlemen were instrumental in fixing the fees of the lawyers, in getting the records changed and in ensuring that the enhanced compensation awarded by the courts reached the displaced people in some form (after due deductions). The government responding to the complaints of the claimants, of not receiving the compensation awarded to them, ordered that cheques payable by the court should be in the names of the claimants. Unfortunately, this does not appear to have made much of a difference. Under this new procedure the claimant was required to open an account in a bank. In practice, the lawyer accompanied the claimant to the bank and gave the necessary introduction to the bank for opening an account. When the cheque was received a second or third trip was made by the lawyer (or his agent or middleman) to deposit the cheque in the account of the claimant. The signature of the claimant was obtained on the cheque or withdrawal slip of the bank and the lawyer/middleman received the full amount passing on the balance, if any, to the claimant after making the deductions towards fees, court charges, loans/advances given to the client, etc. A lawyer from Kurnool, however, complained that with the introduction of this new procedure they had to chase the claimants once the case was won to recover the fees, etc. apart from making several trips to the bank for helping the clients to open their accounts. He also cited instances when some of the claimants did not pay the fees agreed upon earlier.
Some lawyers had yet another grievance that the villagers or the middlemen had been playing truant. Once they got to know that all the necessary documents had been prepared and filed in the court and the case had to be only formally argued out, they tried to engage lawyers who were willing to argue the case at a much lower fee. According to them, this was possible because more lawyers were vying with each other to take up the compensation cases.
In this manner, by 31 March 1985 20,137 cases had been filed in Wanaparthy (Mahboobnagar district) and Kurnool Courts. Of these 10,011 cases were related to houses and 9,687 cases to land. Another 439 writs were filed collectively by groups of displaced people, sometimes whole villages, directly in the state High Court either for houses or lands or both. Of these, 8,695 cases were decided by the District Courts (5,026 cases related to houses and 3,669 cases related to land). In 74 per cent of these cases the judgements were challenged by the state government and the cases were transferred to the High Court. The remaining 2,205 cases were not challenged in view of the fact that the legal costs involved were likely to be much higher than the amount in dispute. Of the 6,490 cases filed in the High Court ',153 have been decided. In other words, of 20,137 cases filed only 3,358 cases (2,205 in the districts and 1,153 in the High Court), or barely 17 per cent had been finally settled by the end of March 1985.
Some specific features of these cases are:
According to the research team's estimates, the government would have to pay the displaced people anywhere between Rs. 35 to Rs. 90 crores. If the cases continued for years, the government would have to bear further loss. In an attempt to clear these cases, the government set up two special courts to try the compensation cases in the two district headquarters of Mahboobnagar and Kurnool.
For a project which was initially claimed to cost only Rs. 38 crores, the government had already spent Rs. 46.6() crores by way of compensation alone. It would have paid another Rs. 35 to Rs. 90 crores as compensation by 1988. (The amount paid as compensation for the forest areas submerged has not been mentioned in the government data).
In any case, after all the heavy expenditure incurred by the government by way of higher compensation to the evictees, a substantial share would be deducted by the lawyers as fees, charges, expenses, and repayment of advances taken. The remaining amount would largely, if not c completely, be used in repaying old debts incurred especially in the construction of houses. What little remains would be used in no time for their daily needs. When the state displaces a group of people without their involvement and approval either in the decision-making process or in the actual act of displacement, the absolute minimum obligation of the state would be to ensure that the displaced people are, at least? properly rehabilitated in terms of earning a decent livelihood. When displacement poses unmanageable problems on the criteria of justice, it throws into question the very assumptions underlying the development process itself.
Srisailam Project: Details of Submerged Villages
|1. Fully submerged
2. Villages where village sites in full and part of agricultural
lands were submerged
|3. Villages where part of village sites and part of agricultural lands were submerged||2||1||5||2||7||3|
|4. Villages where village sites were not affected but only part of agricultural lands vere submerged||14||-||21||-||35||--|
Annexure 2 Lands and Houses Acquired by the Gouvernment and Compensation
|District||Extent of Land
|No. of Houses
Average amount paid per house acquired: Rs. 5,458.14.
Average amount paid per acre of land acquired: Rs. 2,560.00.
· 6.875 acres of kind and eleven houses had yet to be acquired, enquiry was under progress.
Annexure 3 Rehabilitation Cash Grant (RCC)
|District||Total No. of
Families to whom
RCG; to be
|No. of displaced
Families Jo whom
|Balance No. of
Families to be
People's Resistance Against Displacement by Large Dams
The experience of the people displaced by the srisailam project is not unique. it replicates the pattern of social and ecological dis location that has always been the 'hidden cost' or 'invisible negative externality' of building large dams in India. Each water develop ment project creates 'evictees', people whose life has been violently disrupted and who,have little say in the decisions about their eviction.
The construction of the Ukai Dam across the river Tapi in Gujarat displaced 52,000 people. These farmers, cultivating fertile lands, were forced to resettle in an area recently cleared of forests for the purpose. They were given up to 4 hectares of land on the basis of the extent of ownership in the old villages. Before they shifted to the new site, the government promised to level the land, clear the area of tree stumps, sink wells free of cost and instal power connections, etc. But once they moved, all these promises turned out to be false. The land was levelled with some assistance from the government. But the tree stumps had to be cleared by the farmers themselves with great difficulty. All this only resulted in the top soil being washed away within a few years and no crop would grow sufficiently after that. The promised wells were never sunk as the government clarified that only those who had wells in the old villages would be provided with new ones. In the old villages lands were largely near the river bank and not many farmers needed to sink wells. Without enough water, little food and almost no work, they soon became a migrant labour force to work in the sugarcane fields of the farmers in they command area.
The story of those uprooted by the Tehri Dam in the Himalayas is also very similar. The Pong Dam in Himachal Pradesh displaced 16,000 families (nearly one lakh people). An attempt was made to rehabilitate about half of them in the faraway deserts of Rajasthan in the command area of the project. Each family was given 16 acres of land. (The highest so far under any rehabilitation scheme in the country). In spite of this, unable to adjust to the new climatic conditions, water, people and language, most of the displaced people sold their lands and returned to their native place. Under the Bhakra Dam 2,180 families of Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh were displaced. They were promised lands in the command area in Haryana in the lower region twenty-five years ago. But to date only 730 families or 33 per cent had been 'rehabilitated'. While lands were acquired from them in 1942-47 at the then prevailing rates, the lands allotted were at the rates prevailing in 1952-57 which means that the displaced people could only get between 1 to 5 acres. Since the land allotted was not very fertile and since they were unable to adjust to the changed environment as well as the not so friendly local population, most of the 'rehabilitated' families soon abandoned/sold their allotted lands and returned to Himachal Pradesh.
While in the past, conflicts between displaced people and those benefiting from large dams were always resolved in favour of the latter, the ecological imperative for the protection of nature has added a new dimension to the struggle of displaced people. They are now perceived as fighting not merely for their own survival, but for the survival- of their forests, rivers and land.
In East India, tribals belonging to 121 villages to be displaced by the Rs. 800 crore Koel-Karo project in Bihar have successfully managed to stop the construction work. The project envisages impounding the water of the river Koel at Basia and diverting it to the river Karo through a 22 km link channel, and the construction of another dam near Lohajamir village in Topra block, Ranchi district. If constructed, the project will submerge over 50,01)0 acres of land including 25,000 acres of forests whose customary rights are held by the tribal communities. Tribals have held demonstrations, blocked construction and resorted to legal action. A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court and in 1984, the Court issued an injunction restricting any type of dispossession of land till the final hearing of the case. Similarly, tribals likely to be evicted due to the construction of the Icchampalli and Bhopalpatnam projects in Maharashtra have organised themselves to struggle against the construction of these dams. A strong movement of tribals has grown against the Suvernarekha project in Bihar, which consists of two major dams-one at Chandil on the river Suvernarekha and the other at Icha on the river Kharkai. The Rs. 1200 crore project is supposed to provide irrigation. The primary aim, however, seems to be to supply water to industrial centres like Jamshedpur. Irrigation has traditionally been provided through 'ahars', which appear to be ecologically more sustainable and socially more just than the gigantic canal system of the Suvernarekha project which is devastating the beautiful Chotanagpur plateau. On completion, the project will submerge 45,000 acres of land including 10,000 acres of forest lands. Nearly 75,000 tribals from 120 villages will be displaced from their ancestral lands, to which their life is very closely linked, and from which they cannot be alienated according to the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act.
Gangaram Kalundia who was leading the resistance against the dam at Icha was killed in a police encounter in 1982. The tribals of Singhbhum are determined to continue their struggle against the construction of the dam through the local organization of displaced people called the 'Icha-Kharhai Visthapit Sangh'.
The Narmada Valley project is considered the world's largest water project, consisting of 30 major, 135 medium and 3,000 minor dams on the river Narmada and its tributaries. It will uproot one million people, submerge 350,000 hectares of forest lands and 200,000 hectares of cultivable lands and cost Rs. 25,000 crores over the next twenty-five years. The Sardar Sarovar Dam is already under construction, but is facing major opposition from tribals likely to be displaced, as well as from human rights and environmental groups. The submergence of 39,134 hectares of land will displace people of 234 villages. The Narmada Sagar project which is the next in line will submerge 91,348 hectares and displace people of 254 villages.
While the Narmada Dam struggles began as a fight for a just and human rehabilitation of the displaced people, it has rapidly evolved into a major environmental controversy, questioning not just the method of compensation, but also the logic of large dams. That the logic is questionable is indicated by the withdrawal of two major dam proposals-the Silent Valley project and the Bodhghat project. As water becomes increasingly scarce and demands for water resources grow, to provide energy for industry and irrigation for the production of agricultural commodities, conflicts over large dams will increase in intensity. As these conflicts emerge and grow, they will not only address problems created upstream due to submergence, they will also be linked with problems created downstream due to overuse and misuse of water for intensive irrigation.
Since large water projects for power and irrigation are capitalintensive, they have usually been financed by international aid. World Bank loans have made a significant contribution to the construction of large dams and canal systems in post-independent India. The water projects financed by the World Bank in India are presented in Table 8.1. The role of the World Bank and other sources of multilateral and bilateral development aid in the construction of gigantic projects with heavy social and ecological costs is generating a new level of conflict between the interests of international agencies and local communities. A new era of ecological politics is unfolding, in which people affected by ecologically destructive projects are trying to make international financial institutions accountable for their lending practices.
Table 8.1 World Bank Financed Water Projects
IDA No. Credit
|DVC Project||IBRD Loan 72||18.5|
|DVC Project||IBRD Loan 203||25.00|
|Koyna I||IBRD Loan 223||25.00|
|Koyna II||IDA Credit 24||21.10|
|Upper Indravati||IBRD Loan 2278||156.40|
|Upper lndravati||IDA Credit 1356||170.00|
|Indira Sarovar||IBRD Loan 2416||157.40|
|Indira Sarovar||IDA Credit 1613||143.00|
|Salandi Irrigation||IDA Credit 14||9.54|
|Shetrunji Irrigation||IDA Credit 13||5.19|
|Punjab Drainage||IDA Credit 15||12.05|
|Sone Irrigation Project||IDA Credit 21||18.09|
|Puma Irrigation Project||IDA Credit 23||15.67|
|Beas Equipment Project||IDA Credit 89||26.59|
|Madame Irrigation Project||IDA Credit 176||36.55|
|Pochampad Irrigation Project||IDA Credit 268||40.60|
|Chambal Irrigation (Rajasthan)||IBRD Loan 1011||52.00|
|Rajasthan Canal||IDA Credit 502||83.00|
|Godavari Barrage||IDA Credit 535||45.00|
|Chambal CAD (Madhya Pradesh)||IDA Credit 562||24.00|
|Andhra Pradesh Irrigation||IBRD Credit 1251||145.00|
|Tamil Nadu Irrigation||IDA Credit 720||23.00|
|Maharashtra Irrigation||IDA Credit 736||70.00|
|Orissa Irrigation||IDA Credit 740||58.00|
|Karnataka Irrigation||IDA Credit 788||126.00|
|Guiarat Irrigation||IDA Credit 808||85.110|
|Haryana Irrigation||IDA Credit 843||111.00|
|Punjab Irrigation||IDA Credit 989||129.00|
|Maharashtra Irrigation||IDA Credit 954||210.00|
|Guiarat Irrigation||IDA Credit 10H||175.00|
|Mahanadi Barrage||IDA Credit 1078||83.00|
|Madhya Pradesh Medium Irrigation||IDA Credit 1108||140.00|
|Karnataka Tanks||IDA Credit 1116||54.00|
|Madbya Pradesh Major Irrigation||IDA Credit 1177||220.00|
|Kallada Irrigation||IDA Credit 1269||60.00|
|Kallada Irrigation||IBRD Loan 2186||20.00|
|Second Chambal Irrigation|
|(Madhya Pradesh)||IDA Credit 1288||31.00|
|Suvernarekha Irrigation||IDA Credit 1289||127.00|
|Second Haryana Irrigation||IDA Credit 1319||150.0|
|Maharashtra Water Utilisation||IBRD Loan 2308||22.7|
|Maharashtra Water Utilisation||IDA Credit 1383||32.00|
|Orissa Irrigation 11||IDA Credit 1397||105.00|
|Periyar Vogal Irrigation||IDA Credit 1468||35.00|
|Upper Gang Irrigation||IDA Credit 1483||125.00|
|Gujarat Medium Irrigation||IDA Credit 1496||172.00|
|Sardar Sarovar Dam.||IDA Credit 1552||100.0|
|Sardar Sarovar Dam||IBRD Loan 2497||200.00|
Table 8.1 Contd.
|IDA No. Credit|
|Water Delivery and Drainage||IDA Credit 1553||15().(X)|
|Maharashtra Composite Irrigation||IDA Credit 1621||161).(0|
|Andhra Pradesh Irrigation 11||IBRD Loan 2662||131.()0|
|National Water Management||IDA Credit 177()||114.00|
Intensive Irrigation and Water logging: Conflicts in the Malaprabha Command Area
Most anti-dam movements in india have emerged from move ments of people facing displacement due to the submergence of large areas upstream of dam sites. These struggles are expressions of a conflict of interests between those who bear the social and ecological costs of dams and those who benefit from them.
However, large dams have diverse and complex ecological impacts. and they often generate environmental costs for those very groups who are supposed to be the beneficiaries. Waterlogging and salini sation are twin problems caused by the wasteful use of water.
Waterlogging is caused by the interaction of a large number of factors such as irrigation intensity, soil characteristics, drainage. seepage from reservoirs, distributaries and field channels. Since large-scale irrigation systems are linked to the uniformity of water distribution, which enforces the uniformity of cropping patterns. and uniformity in the landscape, waterlogging becomes inevitable in areas with undulating topography and water retentive soils. In such cases, farmers who are supposed to be the 'beneficiaries' become victims of irrigation projects and irrigation authorities. In areas where irrigation has led to the transformation of productive lands into waterlogged wastelands, conflicts arise between farmers and the state. The 'Mitt) Bachao Andolan' in the Tawacomman area is an example of such conflicts." In the Krishna basin, conflic generated by irrigation projects were highlighted by the farmer agitations in the command area of the Malaprabha project.
The Malaprabha project was completed in 1972-73. With the introduction of canal irrigation, nearly 2,364 hectares of land i the project area has become waterlogged and saline' Before the introduction of perennial irrigation, the undulating semi-arid land in the project area was used for growing water prudent crops like jowar and pulses. Due to a sudden change from rainfed agriculture to intensive canal irrigation, the low lying areas have become waterlogged. The cultivation of water demanding crops like hybrid cotton has aggravated the problem. In addition, seepage from canals has also raised the water level.
The Malaprabha project includes a storage dam of 1,068 million cum capacity near Saundatti in Belgaum district which feeds the 138 km Malaprabha right bank, 168 km left bank canal, and the Kolachi right bank canal. The command areas of these canals presented in Table 8.2.
Malaprabha Command Area
|Exiting Command Area (ha)||Potential|
The soils in the command area are black cotton soils, which have high water retention capacity and are prone to waterloggin, Intensive irrigation of black cotton soils has been known to be prescription for creating wastelands. While irrigation has bet viewed as a means to improve land productivity, in cases like if Malaprabha command area, it has led to the destruction of productivity.
Further, the shift from rainfed food crops to an irrigated cash crop like cotton was expected to improve the prosperity of farmer However, it led to indebtedness as well as loss of fertile fan. through waterlogging.
To utilise the irrigation waters, farmers began to cultivate 'Varalaxmi' cotton which was initially sold at Rs. 1,000 per quintal. Farmers took loans from banks to develop land, purchase seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The total loan taken by the farmers increased from Rs. 50 lakhs in 1974 to over Rs. 5.5 crores by 1980. The prices of chemical fertilisers increased from Rs. 75 to Rs. 103 per bag. The cost of the Varalaxmi seed increased from Rs. 60 to Rs. 170 per kg. In the meantime the price of cotton crashed from Rs. 1,000 per quintal in 1974 to Rs. 350 per quintal in 1980.
While farmers were caught in the trap of unfulfilled commercial promise, banks demanded repayments of loans, and the irrigation authorities demanded a development tax known as betterment levy of Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,600 per acre. The water tax was raised from Rs. 18 to Rs. 30 per acre for jowar, Rs. 18 to Rs. 50 per acre for Varalaxmi. A tax of Rs. 10 per acre was fixed even if water was not utilised. For the farmers, this amounted to gross injustice, since they had not benefited from the irrigation project. In addition, the compensation for acquiring land for the dam and canals had not been paid to 75 per cent of the farmers even after seven to eight years.
The farmers therefore organised themselves as the Malaprabha Niravari Pradesh Ryota Samvya Samithi' (Co-ordination Committee of Farmers of Malaprabha Ittihsyrf Area) in March 1980. When the local authorities did not pay heed to the farmers' demands, they launched a non-cooperation movement for nonpayment of taxes. The authorities responded by refusing to issue the certificates required by the farmers' children in order to in schools and colleges. On 19 June, the farmers went on a hunger strike in front of the Tebsildar's office in Naragund town. On 30 June, 10,()00 farmers collected to support those on hunger strike. On 7 July, a massive rally was organised in Navalgund, and the farmers went on a hunger strike. Seeing that no response was forthcoming from the authorities, the farmers organised a 'bunch' on 21 July. When 5,000 to 6,000 farmers had gathered in Navalgund, their tractors were damaged and the rally was stoned. The protest then took a violent turn. The angry farmers seized the irrigation office department, burnt down one truck and fifteen jeeps. The police in turn opened fire and a young boy, Basappa Shivappa of Algavadi, was killed on the spot.
In Naragund town, the police opened fire at a procession of 10,000 people, shooting one youth. The protesting farmers responded by beating a police officer and a constable to death.
The protests rapidly spread to Ghataprabha, Tungabhadra, and other parts of Karnataka. During the protests thousands of farmers were arrested and forty were killed. Finally, the government had to put a moratorium on the collection of water taxes.and the betterment levy. According to a rough estimate, the concessions granted to farmers to end the Malaprabha agitation amounted to Rs. 85 crores.
However, the high costs of irrigation in the Malaprabha project have been forgotten. No lessons have been drawn for planning water projects, and bureaucrats, technocrats and politicians continue-to get carried away by the euphoria for large dams and intensive irrigation projects.
The creation of waterlogged wasteland through intensive irrigation is not specific to the Malaprabha command area. Compared to other projects in the Krishna basin, waterlogging, salinity and alkalinity are most serious in the Tungabhadra project. Nearly 1,500 hectares of land is likely to become waterlogged under the left bank canal. In the right bank canal 6,000 hectares have been affected by waterlogging. Under the right bank high level canal 12,000 hectares have been affected by waterlogging. In all, 19,500 hectares have been destroyed by waterlogging in the Tungabhadra project within an irrigation period of thirty-five years.
In the Bhadra project, of 1,24,392 hectares irrigated, 7,900 hectares have been devastated by waterlogging. In the Malaprabha project, of the total potential of 2,12,086 hectares, only 12,186 hectares have been actually irrigated. Of this irrigated area, 50 per cent has been waterlogged. In the Ghataprabha project, where a higher average has been irrigated than what was actually planned, out of 3,58,542 hectares irrigated, 19,948 hectares have been devastated by waterlogging.
In Andhra Pradesh, under the Nagarjunasagar project (NSP) the groundwater level has risen alarmingly within ten years, thereby indicating a trend towards waterlogging. In Maharashtra, the Maharashtra Irrigation Commission claims that 28,000 hectares of land have been affected by waterlogging in the Deccan Canals, i.e., Nira and Mutha Canals. The irrigation commission of 1976 had estimated the total waterlogged area in the basin at 7,828 hectares (6,583 hectares in Karnataka and 1,245 hectares in Maharashtra) and 15,502 hectares affected by salinity. At present 4,45,985 hectares have been affected by salinity.
Waterlogging is ecologically linked to large dams because large darns involve the transport of huge quantities of water for intensive irrigation. In fact, the primary rationale given in defence of large dams is to induce a shift from protective irrigation, which is ensured by indigenous irrigation systems, to intensive irrigation for commercial crops. The inevitable ecological impact of overuse of water for irrigation is a build up of water beyond the drainage capacity of the ecosystem. The need for artificial drainage systems arises because the natural drainage processes of the local ecosystem are violated. Waterlogging is thus a symptom of the conflict between water use in the commerciaVmarket economy, and water use for the maintenance of the water cycle including a balance between water entering an ecosystem and water leaving it. By violating the ecological laws of water flow, large dams lead to ecological destruction on the one hand and political conflict on the other.
River Diversions and Regional Conflicts Over Water: The Case of the Telugu Ganga Canal
Large dams are constructed for allowing major diversions of water from the natural drainage flow of the river. These diversions result in a major change in the distribution patterns of water in a basin, especially when they involve inter-basin transfers. They therefore generate new conflicts over the distribution of water between different regions. Regional conflicts become inter-state conflicts, and are rapidly enmeshed in inter-state and centre-state politics.
The Telugu Ganga Canal, which takes off from the Srisailam Dam, is probably the most conflict-ridden river diversion project in contemporary India.
Krishna is the second largest river of peninsular India. Its catchment lies in the Western Ghats and it flows east through the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Krishna is an inter-state river, and conflicts have arisen between the co-riparian states over the allocation of its waters to their respective territories for purposes of development.
The Krishna basin like other regions of India had indigenous irrigation works such as tanks, wells and anicuts. There were nearly 27,000 small tanks and diversions on the Krishna river system, mostly in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. To these were added new canals during the colonial period for commercial agriculture. These were:
The majority of the area irrigated by the Krishna Delta Canals and Kurnool Cuddapah Canal (1.11 million acres) lies outside the basin of the Krishna. In 1951, the status of the diversion of Krishna waters was as follows: 411.4 TMCF of water was diverted annually for the irrigation of 2,302,377 acres. Of this 290.1 TMCF was used by Andhra Pradesh, 430 TMCF by Maharashtra, and 78.3 TMCF by Karnataka.
After independence, the large-scale diversion of river
waters increased. In July 1951 the Planning Commission convened an inter-state conference
to discuss the utilisation of Krishna waters. The dependable annual flow in the Krishna
basin based on the recorded gaugings at Vijayawada was agreed at 1,715 TMCF so the balance
of flow for new projects remained 970.5 TMCF which was rounded off to 1,000 TMCF and
allocations were made between the different states as follows:
For the balance flow in excess of 1,000 TMCF, if any, the allocation for the above states was in the ratio 30:30:1:39. The state of Bombay was allowed to divert the waters to the west across the Western Ghats for the hydro-electric project at Koyna up to a limit of 67.5 TMCF. The agreement provided for a review of the allocations after twenty years. In 1953, states were; reorganised on a linguistic basis, Madras was divided into Andhra and Madras. In 1956 the state of Andhra Pradesh was created by the merger of parts of Hyderabad and Andhra. As a result of territorial changes, the riparian states sharing the Krishna waters are Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. An inter-state conference was convened in New Delhi under the auspices of the Union Minister of Irrigation and Power on September 1960, to recast the allocations of Krishna waters made in 1981. However, efforts to reach an agreement among the states proved unsuccessful and widely divergent views were expressed by the different states. ~ three man commission headed by N.D. Gulhati was set up. The commission undertook the first ever attempt 'at a basin-wide survey of the technical implementation relevant to water resources development.'
As observed by Tripathi, the Commission in examining the river flow of both these rivers was greatly hampered by the lack of regular reliable and continuous observations of water discharge at various points in river... The Commission stated that the flow records prior to 1936 were based on formulae different from those followed after 1936. Therefore the Commission stated that it [was] not possible to determine the flow for 86 per cent dependability or for 75 per cent dependability or for any other criterion of dependability. Because of the lack of adequate data of river flow, the Commission could not give positive answers to the terms of reference as regards the availability of water supplies on the river systems.
State-wise allocation of Krishna waters was, therefore, not possible owing to the lack of scientifically observed data. The Irrigation Minister decided that adequate river data should be collected over a number of years and analysed continuously. However, tentative allocation was made for ongoing projects.
In spite of interim re-allocations, conflicts over Krishna waters continued with each state accusing the other of higher withdrawals from the river than its legitimate share. Maharashtra and Karnataka wanted a tribunal set up under Section 3 of the Interstate Water Disputes Act, 1956.
The Bachawat Tribunal was appointed in 1969 to resolve the Krishna water state conflicts. In 1973 the Bachawat Committee gave its award. The availability of water was assessed at 2,060 TMCF and on the basis of 75 per cent dependability, Andhra Pradesh was allocated 800 TMCF. The award fixed a formula for sharing both during surplus and lean years and was binding on the states until AD 2000.
Mrs. Gandhi the then Prime Minister consulted the co-riparian states to provide drinking water to Madras which had been facing severe shortages. The three states readily agreed to part with S TMCF each. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh later hailed the Krishna water supply scheme to Madras as the Telugu Ganga. The agreement was reached on 14 April 1976. On 17 October 1977, it was agreed that a 330 km long open canal would carry 15 TMCF to Madras.
While the decision to supply drinking water to Madras was agreed by all the states, conflicts arose when Andhra Pradesh decided to use the Telugu Ganga project for irrigation. The Rs. 850 crore project now envisages extension of irrigation to 5.75 lakh acres in three districts of Rayalseema-Kurnool, Cuddapah and Chittoor and one district in the Andhra region-Nellore, in addition to the supply of 15 TMCF of drinking water to Madras. Nearly 42.4 per cent of Kurnool district lies in the Krishna basin. Cuddapah and Chittoor as well as the rest of Kurnool lie in the Pennar basin. Karnataka had questioned the diversion of water outside the basin to the KWDT arguing that only in-basin needs should be considered in determining a state's equitable share, a state should be permitted to divert its share of water outside the basin. Andhra Pradesh maintained that out of basin needs are a relevant factor and that diversions outside the basin for irrigation needs only should be permitted. Using precedence from the American Law, the Bachawat Tribunal held that the diversion of Krishna water outside the basin was legal. The river basin as an integral unit was thus substituted by the state as an administrative unit. The conflicting demands and distributive patterns emerging from the integrity of the basin versus the integrity of the state ifs a major reason for inter-state conflicts between riparian states not getting fully resolved.
Another fundamental reason for the intractable nature of river conflicts arises from the rights established through the priority of Project use in time and the rights based on the priority of need in the long term. Andhra Pradesh contends that the diversion of an additional 275 TMCF of Krishna waters to feed the districts of Kurnool and Cuddapah in Rayalseema for irrigation of 2.75 lakh acres, is within the scope of the Bachawat award as the Tribunal permitted Andhra Pradesh to take advantage of the surplus flows down the river at Vijayawada. As the Bachawat Tribunal stated, 'the state of An&a Pradesh will be at liberty to use in any year the remaining water that may be flowing in the Krishna river'.
Karnataka has objected to the Telugu Ganga irrigation scheme on the grounds that its own projects to harness Krishna waters are still incomplete and what appears to be excess, currently, will be used in the future. Karnataka has made it clear that surplus Krishna waters would not be available for the Telugu Ganga project.
Maharashtra has also opposed the Telugu Ganga project on the ground that it violates the inter-state agreement reached in October 1977. The government of Maharashtra has observed that the state has vast chronic drought affected areas. Almost 75 per cent of the Krishna basin area in Maharashtra is drought prone and the state has plans to use the Krishna water allocated to it by the Krishna Tribunal. It has, therefore, to make sure that at the time of review of the award, its legitimate claim to the surplus available water in the Krishna river is not in any way jeopardised by pre-emptive efforts to commit this surplus water to projects like the Telugu Ganga. Karnataka- and Maharashtra governments are resisting the project on the grounds that Andhra Pradesh has already used its allocation and the Telugu Ganga project would enable Andhra Pradesh to establish its right on larger volumes of water through prior utilisation. Andhra Pradesh has already invested Rs. 200 crores and has 5,000 labourers working on the construction of the canal. Of the 406 km length of the canal, 190 km pass through the reserved forests of the Nellamali Range, for which central environmental clearance has not been obtained so far. At present the work is confined to reservoirs and canals in the non-forest areas. Water for the project is to be drawn from the Srisailam Dam through the head regulator at Pothireddypadu, which has a total carrying capacity of 11,000 cusecs. The first 16 km of the canal is shared with the Srisailam right branch canal. The common canals run up to Bankacherla cross regulator where the Srisailam right branch canal and the Telugu Ganga Canal branch off to the right and left, respectively. The Telugu Ganga Canal is in fact the old Srisailam left branch canal extending into the Segileru Valley. Water to be drawn for the Telugu Ganga project is to be stored in four reservoirs at Yellgodu, Brahamasagar, Somashila and Kandaleru. At Mithakanda? near the Bankacherla regulator, a 100 feet high ridge divides the Krishna and the Pennar basins, where the water would be transferred outside the Krishna basin. The canal would pass through Kurnool and Cuddapah districts from where the water would flow into the Pennar river at
Chenumukapalli. The flow down the river would be picked up at the Somashila Dam and passed on to the Kandaleru reservoir before it reaches Madras. The construction work continues even though the controversy over the Telugu Ganga project remains unresolved.
Andhra Pradesh derives its legitimacy from two arguments. First, it claims it is using only surplus waters for the project, and the right to surplus waters had been granted to it by the Tribunal. Second, it claims that if there is scarcity, then the arid drought prone regions of Rayalseema should not be asked to sacrifice irrigation waters. Instead, Maharashtra should be asked to stop diverting large volumes of water out of the Krishna basin into the Arabian Ocean for power generation for industrial centres.
The river Krishna emerges in the Western Ghats and flows
eastward down the gentle slopes. The western face of the Western Ghats falls steeply down
altitudes of 1,000 to 2,000 feet, providing excellent sites for power generation. However,
the water used for hydro-electricity has to be diverted out of the basin, and dropped into
the sea. Currently, the power projects in Maharashtra which divert water westwards are the
Tata and Koyna Hydel Projects. The former diverts 42.6 TMC and the latter diverts 67.5
TMC. Maharashtra, however, has plans to increase the use of Krishna waters for power
generation as seen from the following:
|Project||Westward Diversion in TMC|
|Tata Hydel Project||45|
|Koyna Hydel Project (authorized)||74.8|
|Koyna Hydel Project (extension)||32.5|
|New Multi-Purpose Projects||108.1|
In this conflict between the demands for power generation and the demands for irrigation in drought prone areas, the Krishna Tribunal protected existing diversions while giving priority to irrigation for future use. As it stated:
In the Krishna Basin, water is a scarce commodity. Westward diversion of water for power generation seriously restricts the use of water for downstream irrigation.... Power for
Bombay and Maharashtra industry is generated at the cost of depriving the low rainfall areas on the eastern side of the water solely needed for irrigation.
The Tribunal, however, allowed the expansion of hydel projects on the condition that over a period of twenty years they would return to the existing capacity. When the next Krishna Tribunal meets in the year 2020 to review the sharing and utilisation of Krishna waters, the concepts of justice and rights as related to water will have undergone dramatic changes, as will the basin itself.
Too Many Dams Chasing Too Little Water
Water development projects in india have been based on a
localised and fragmented approach to water resources which fail to take the integrity of
the entire basin into account. The consequence is that plans are made beyond the limits
set by the water cycle leading to ecological disruption of the water flow on the one hand
and major political conflicts on the other. The disputes relating to the sharing of
Krishna waters arise from this basic flaw in the approach to water development projects in
the three riparian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. When the
inter-state conflict over Krishna waters was referred to the Krishna Water Disputes
Tribunal under the chairmanship of Justice Bachawat, the Tribunal determined the 75 per
cent dependable flow of 2,060 TMCF and allocated this amount to the three states as
|Andhra Pradesh||800 TMCF|
However calculations of water yields by the UNU research team, with the data base extended to 1984, show that the total availability of water at 75 per cent dependability is 2,051 TMCF.
The yield per square kilometre of catchment in the Western Ghats ranges from 0.247 TMC of the Bhadra headwaters region to 0.118 TMC of the Tunga catchment. As against this, the yields of rivers in the dry tracts are extremely poor, often less than 0,001 TMC.
While Krishna water is thus probably less than the yield calculated by the Tribunal, the states demanded far more than what is available. The states of Maharashtra and Karnataka demanded 828.3 TMCF and 1432.42 TMCF respectively for their on-going and future projects. Andhra Pradesh had put forth a total demand of 2,008.1 TMCF. Thus the total demand was 4,269.3 TMCF which is more than double the total dependable yield of the river. This total mismatch between the demand and the availability of water-is the main reason for inter-state conflicts.
Table 8.3 Demands of Karanataka (Mysore)
|Sl. No. Name of Project||Demand
|Demand out of
Balance 75 Per-
|1. Dudhganga Project||10.00||-||10,00||4.00|
|2. Minor Irrigation (K-1)||1.71||0.18||1.53||1.03|
|3. Upper Krishna Proje||442.00||103.00||339.00||125.00|
|4. Bijapur Lift Irrigatio Scheme||63.00||-||63.00|
|5. Don Project||3.66||-||3.66|
|6. Minor Irrigation (K-2)||15.93||2.47||13.46||9.16|
|7. Ghataprabha Project (AII Stages)||120.00||36.60||83.40||55.00|
|8. Sokak Canal||1.40||-||1.40||1.40|
|9. Weir Schemes||5.00||-||5.00|
|10. Markandeya Project||4.00||-||4.00||12.00|
|12. Minor Irrigation (K-31||11.73||1.03||10.37||6.85|
|13. Malaprabha (including Left|
|Bank Canal and Upper|
|14. Ramthal Lifl Irrigation Scheme||10.0||-||10.0||4.50|
|15. Minor Irrigation (K 4)||17.58||4.57||13.01||6.07|
|16. Minor Irrigation (K-5)||1.39||0.()2||1.37||0.59|
|18. Bhima Lift Irrigation Scheme||31.18||-||31.18||10.00|
|19. Bhima Irrigation Project||37.64||-||37.64||11.00|
|20. Diksanga project||0.30||-||0.30||1.00|
|21. Amarja Project||2.27||--||2.27||2.30|
|Sl. No. Name of Project||Demand
|Demand out of
Balance 75 Per-
|22. Bennithora Project||6.01||-||6.01||6.00|
|23. Gandhorinala Project||3.46||-||3.46||2.20|
|24. Uppcr Millamari Project||1.30||-||1.30||1.30|
|25. Lower Millamari Project||4.38||-||4.38||4.40|
|26. Kagna Project||12.93||-||12.93||2.00|
|27. Minor Irrigation (K-6)||30.77||6.47||24.30||11.40|
|28. Minor Irrigation (K-7)||2.88||0.69||2.19||1.66|
|29. Tungabhadra Project (Left|
|Bank Canal Right Bank Low|
|Level Canal. Right Bank High|
|30. Vijayanagar Channels||13.70||5.71||7.99||8.00|
|31. Rajolibunda Diversion||1.20||1.20||-||-|
|32. Tunga Anicut||11. 50||11.50||-||-|
|33. Bhadra Project||62.00||61.70||-||-|
|34. Bhadra Anicul||3.10||3.10||-||-|
|35. Condi Left Bank|
|38. Dharma Project and Canals||2.20||2.20||-||-|
|40.. Upper Tungabhadra||19.00||-||19.00||-|
|41. Tungabhadra Foreshore Lift||11.85||-||11.85||-|
|42. Tungabhadra Diversion||20.00||-||20.00||-|
|43. Upper Tunga Project||41.00||-||40.0||20.00|
|44. Upper Bhadra Project||36.11||-||.36.00||10.00|
|48.. Hirehalla||1.06||- -||1.06||-|
|49, Minor Irrigation (K-8)||100.92||49,04||51.88||23,59|
|50, Vanivilas Sagar||8,20||8,20||-||-|
|51. Feeder Channel to Ranikere||1.05||-||1.05||1.00|
|53. Minor Irngation (K-9)||38.20||29.87||8.33||4.25|
Table 8.4 Demands of Maharashtra State
|St.. No. Name of Project||Demand
|Demand out of
Balance 75 Per
|2. Urmodi Project||6.2||-||6.2||6.2|
|3. Tarali Project||6.7||-||6.7||6.7|
|4. Canal ex-Khodshi Weir||5.7||2.7||3.0||3.0|
|5. Koyna hydel and Koyna|
|Krishna Lift Scheme with Varunji Weir||129.4||74.8||54.6||54.6|
|6: Wang Project||12.1||-||12.1||12.1|
|7. Warna Project||57.4||47.7||9.7||9.7|
|8. Radhanagarj Project||11.0||11.0||--||-|
|9. Kadvi Irrigation Project||15.6||-||15.6||8.0|
|1(1. Kasari Irrigation including Kaljewadi||42.4||-||42.4||12.0|
|11. Kumhhi Irrigation||17.5||-||17.5||10.0|
|12. Phonda Irrigation Project||4.2||-||4.2||3.0|
|13. Vedganya Irrigation Project||27.7||-||27.7||10.0|
|14. Tulshi Project||3.5||2.6||0.9||-|
|15. Dudhganga project|
|16. Morna Project||1.6||--||1.6||1.6|
|17. Phaya project||1.4||-||1.4||1.4|
|18. Minor Irrigatior'(K-)|
|(utilising less than 1|
|19. Minor Irrigation (K-2)|
|(utilising less than 1|
|20 Hiranyakeshi Irrigation Project||32.2||-||32.2||12.()|
|21. Gudavale Lift scheme||3.1||--||3.1||3.1|
|.22. Minor Irrigation (utilising less than 1 TMC annually)||1.9||1.0||0.9||0.9|
|23. Tala Hydel Works||45.0||45.1|
|24. Mutha Syslem ex-Khadakwasla||13.1||23.5||9.6||9.6|
|25. Kukadi Project||38.9||20.1||18.8||18.8|
|26. Ghod Dam Project||10.4||10.4|
|27. Chaskaman Project||(10.0)||_||(10.0)||_|
Table 8.4 Condt.
|St.. No. Name of Project||Demand
|Demand out of
Balance 75 Per
|28. Kundali Project||(2.5)||-||(2.5)||-|
|29. Bhima Irrigation Project||90.7||90.2||0.5|
|30. Nira System ex-Vir||65.2||34.6||15.9||15.9|
|31. Barhanpur Project||1.5||-||1.5||1.5|
|32. Mhaswad Project||2.2||2.2||-||-|
|33. Ashti Project||1.0||0.7||0.3||-|
|34. Begumour Lift Scheme||5.3||-||5.3||5.3|
|35. Sina at Nimgaon||1.8||-||1.8||1.8|
|36. Mangi Project||1.2||1.1||0.1|
|37. Sina at Kolagaon Project||4.3||-||4.3||4.3|
|38. Ekruk Tank Project||2.0||1.8||0.2|
|39. Khasapur Project||1.3||1.3||-||-|
|40. Hingni Pangaon Project||1.6||-||1.6||1.6|
|41. Sina Lift Scheme||3 0||-||3.0||3.0|
|(3 0)||(3 0)|
|42. Sholapur City Water Supply||1.6||0.3||1.3||-|
|43. Minor Irrigation (K-5)|
|(ulilising less than I|
|44. Kumoor Project||1.9||1.5||0.4.||-|
|45. Minor Irrigation (K-6)|
|(ulilising less than I|
|St.. No. Name of Project||Demand
|Demand out of
Balance 75 Per
|1. Krishna Delta Syslem||214.11||181.20||32.8||23.01|
|2. Kurnool-Cuddapah Canal|
|(See also No 23)||39 9||39 9||-||20.87|
|3. Muniyaru Project||3.7||3.3||0.4|
|4. Tungabnadra Project|
|(Right Bank Low Level|
|Canal Andhra Sharej)||29.5||29.5||-||-|
|6. Nagarjunasagar Project||481.0||281.0||200.0||-|
|7. Tungabhadra Project|
|(Righl Bank high Level|
|Canal Stages I and II )||32.5||32.5||-||-|
|13. Rajolibunda Diversion Scheme||15.9||15.9||-||-|
|14. Musi project||9.5||9 4||0.1||-|
|15. Minor irrigation|
|(See also NOS. 24 and 37)||105.3||116.26||-||36.88|
|19. Vaikuntapuram Pumping Scheme||2.6||2.6||-||-|
|22. Guntur Channel||7.0||4.0||3.0||-|
|23. Improvements lo Kurnool|
|Guddapah Canal (See also No. 2)||29.5||-||29.5||-|
|24. Minor Irrigation|
|(Scc also NOS. 15 and 37)||2.1||_||2.1||-|
|25. UppEr Krishna Project|
|(Extension to Andhra Pradesh)||54 4||-||54 4||-|
|26. Sangameswaram Canal|
|Schemc Stagcs I and II||315.0||_||315.0||-|
|28 Nagarjunasagar project Stage III||69.0||_||69.0||-|
|29. Bhima Project||100.7||_||100.7||23.0|
|30 Tungabhadra project (Left Bank|
|Low Lcvcl Canal Extension lo|
|31. Rajolibunda Right Canal Scheme||12.9||-||12.9||-|
|34 Varadarajasuamy Project||10||-||1 0||10|
|35. Srisailam Left Canal Scheme||150.0||-||1500||-|
|36. Water Supply and Industrial Use||1200||3.9||116||-|
|37 Minor Irrigation|
|(See also Nos. 15 and 24)||47.5||-||47 5||-|
Since water is obviously a finite and scarce resource and there are always competing demands for limited water such as for drinking, irrigation, industrial use, conflict is inevitable. Yet conflict could be reduced if the limits of water availability are accepted. However, all water development plans ignore these limits. Water is borrowed from the future, as if it was money. The term 'water overdraft' is a legitimate one in the vocabulary of engineers and economists. On the basis of this logic, water projects have been planned on the Krishna, which is seriously 'over appropriated'. Competing regions demand rights to Krishna waters which exceed the water supply. This is the primary reason for conflicts over Krishna waters in spite of allocations by the Krishna Tribunal.
Another reason why the Tribunal award for the use of water in the Krishna basin has not succeeded in resolving water conflicts is rooted in the inheritance of the logic of privatisation from American law, which the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal has used by citing precedence on water conflicts and their resolutions from the law in the USA. According to this principle of priority of appropriation, the one who first appropriated water and put it to beneficial use, thereby acquires a vested right to continue to divert and use that quantity of water against all claimants junior to him in point of time. 'First in time, first in right' is the shorthand expression of this legal principle, which assumes that the exclusive right to use water is established by the act of diversion. The acceptance of this legal framework is the major reason that co-riparian states are trying to outdo each other in water development projects, often without adequate assessment of ecological viability or social equity.
The transfer of American concepts of water rights is accompanied by the transfer of American technologies for building big. The transfer of these concepts encourages extravagant use of water even in water scarce conditions since rights can be lost if the water is not appropriately used. According to the prior appropriation doctrine, to conserve water means to lose it. This fear of loss of water rights in the future has created the pressure for building dams and large water projects in spite of fiscal and environmental constraints. While the absolute and exclusive rights to water through the priority of appropriation have been slightly diluted in India by the consideration of the priority of need, the thrust in water planning and the. settling of water disputes is still provided by the 'first come, first serve' logic of dam building. The main reason that the state of Karnataka is resisting the Telugu Ganga project is because it fears that through it Andhra Pradesh will establish claim to 300 TMC of Krishna waters in spite of having paper rights to develop its water. The unclear and unresolved clash between competing legal systems further aggravates conflicts over nter-state rivers.
Conflicting perceptions of water rights
There are four theories which have been put forward with regard to the water rights of different riparian states. These theories are:
1. The territorial sovereignty theory.
2. Natural water flow theory.
3. The equitable apportionment theory.
4. The community of interest theory.
The territorial sovereignty theory is also known as the Harmon doctrine because it was put forward by the US Attorney General Harmon in 1896 in connection with the controversy between the United States and Mexico over the use of the waters of the river Rio Grande. This theory holds that riparian states have exclusive or sovereign rights over the waters flowing through their territory.
They may use this water any way they like irrespective of the effect of their usage on other riparian states.
The Harmon doctrine has never completely held sway because it is in total violation of the concepts of justice. Even the countries asserting the doctrine have yielded rights to the lower riparian owners either on account of international comity or other reasons. Though the United States may have asserted the doctrine, in arriving at a settlement with the other riparian state or states it has conceded some rights on the ground of good neighbourly policy. Thus in a treaty of 1906 between the United States and Mexico over the Rio Grande river, though the United States affirmed the Harmon doctrine, yet 'in terms of international comity they were willing to provide Mexico with water equivalent to that which she had used before the diversions took place.' Again a treaty between the two countries in 1944 provides that Mexico shall have the right to the maximum specified quantity of water of river Colorado flowing through the two countries. Similarly, though India has taken the position that as an upper riparian owner it has absolute supremacy over the Indus river flowing from India to Pakistan and its tributaries originating in India, it has conceded certain rights to the latter.
The natural water flow theory is also known as the territorial integrity theory. Since a river is a part of the territory of the state under this theory every lower riparian owner is entitled to the natural flow of the river unhampered by the upper riparian owners, otherwise it results in violation of its territorial sovereignty. In other words, the upper riparian owner must allow the water to flow in its natural course to the lower riparian owner in its ordinary channel though, of course, the former can make reasonable use of the water while it was in his territory. This principle has been drawn from the British cases dealing with private property rights in water in a unitary state. This position was also asserted by Egypt as the lower riparian owner against Sudan with regard to the use of Nile water in 1925. However. the Nile Waters Commission rejected the Egyptian position that it had absolute right to the natural flow of the waters. But in 1929 in an agreement embodied in an exchange of notes between Egypt and Great Britain representing Sudan, Britain conceded to Egypt the right of veto on the utilisation of water by the upper riparians. It has, until recently, been felt that the natural integrity doctrine is obstructionist in nature as it denies the benefits arising out of modern technological uses of an international river. Legal thinking on water rights and water conflicts has so far rejected the natural flow theory. However, the emergence of ecological thinking shows that water projects have high ecological and social costs, and some form of the natural integrity doctrine will need to re-emerge to resolve water conflicts in an ecological era.
The equitable utilisation and community of interest theories are closely interrelated. In international law the equitable utilisation of an international river by different states is gaining acceptance. Recent Helsinki Rules have adopted this theory as the basis of international law with regard to the sharing of waters of an international river by different riparian states. The idea of equitable utilisation is the sharing of waters of an international river by various states on an equitable basis. What is equitable distribution is, however, a difficult question.
The equitable apportionment formula used to resolve inter-state conflicts does not lend itself to precise articulation or rules. It is difficult to evolve principles for determining the equitable share of each riparian state which may apply in all cases or situations. The underlying postulate of equitable apportionment is equitability and not equality. The idea is the maximum benefit accruing to all the riparian states of the river, keeping in view the economic and social needs of the different riparian states. To arrive at a proper or a just balance is not an easy task. The problems of each state and river are unique and a solution in one case may not be feasible for adoption in another. The working out of an equitable share of each basin state requires an analysis of complex technical and economic data and the judicious balancing of conflicting claims of, and uses of the river by different riparian states. The problem is further complicated by the fact that the diverse uses of the river by the different states is not simultaneous. Depending upon the needs and the economic development of a state these uses are at different points of time. How far can an existing use by a riparian state be disturbed for providing a more beneficial and equitable use in contemplation of another riparian state is not an easy matter to decide. In spite of the difficulties inherent in the problem, broad guidelines and certain fundamental principles have been suggested.
The first component of the equitable formula is that the use which is to be protected must be beneficial to the state. Thus the
Helsinki Rules state, 'Each basin state is entitled, within its territory, to a reasonable and equitable share in the beneficial uses of the waters of an international drainage basin. explaining the terms, 'beneficial uses', the comment on the article says that 'it must be economically or socially valuable, as opposed, for example, to a diversion of waters by one state merely for the purposes of harassing another'. Further, 'A "beneficial use" need not be the most productive use to which the water may be put, nor need it utilise the most efficient methods known in order to avoid waste and insure maximum utilisation.
During the period of the technological euphoria of large dams, dams and river diversions were assumed to lead to undiluted benefits. However, as we enter a period of ecological restraint based on experiences of upstream and downstream destruction. the principle of equitable apportionment needs to be radically altered to preserve the integrity of river basins and minimise conflicts over water. Concepts of water rights as used currently are concepts of the rights of a state to control or consume water through large water projects. Equity has been defined within this narrow framework, in which what is essentially protected is the right to 'develop' a river and dam and divert its waters. Rules on water use have been framed to protect the rights of states to build dams. This is clearly stated in the Krishna Tribunal which recommended the establishment of the Krishna Valley Authority. The Tribunal states: 'It shall be the duty of the Krishna Valley Authority to ensure that the waters of the river Krishna are stored. appropriated and used to the extent and in the manner provided'
The Krishna Valley Authority was not created to conserve and protect Krishna river. It was modelled on the lines of the Tennessee Valley Authority, to engage in integrated planning at the level of the entire basin. As Reisner has claimed, 'The creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority marked the first time a major river system was "viewed whole" even if the natural river disappeared as a result.
The framework of scientific knowledge and social justice that is currently in use for resolving water conflicts is based on the assumption that a river is wasted if it is not dammed. The concept of 'protective uses' is largely a concept to protect dams and water projects.
Article VIII(I) of the Helsinki Rules provides that 'An existing reasonable use may continue in operation unless the factors justi fying its continuance are outweighed by other factors leading to the conclusion that it be modified or terminated so as to accommodate a competing incompatible use.'
As noted by commentators, the rule embodied in this Article gives some weight to the existing use but it is not conclusive. If the existing use is held to be conclusive then, 'it freezes river development according to the requirements of the earlier user. Indeed, it is conceivable that, if a state moves quickly enough, it could appropriate all of the waters of a basin to the complete exclusion of its co-basin states.
But, if no weight is given to the existing uses, it would inhibit river development, as no state would like to invest huge sums of money in the construction of dams and other works if it has no reasonable assurance of the continuance of its use of the waters. The Helsinki Rule as embodied in Article VIII represents a compromise between the conflicting forces involved in dam building.
Neither international law nor national law related to water rights has evolved to respond to the ecological and political challenges posed by water conflicts that are emerging because people's survival needs and nature's sustenance needs have been ignored. No legal document mentions the most basic law related to water-the natural law of the water cycle. Protection is limited to man-made concrete structures, and from this limited concept of water rights emerges the competitive scramble for each i region and state attempting to outdo the other in planning water projects as a means of establishing their rights to water. Water conflicts thus grow exponentially with large water projects, in spite of the establishment of legal frameworks to resolve these conflicts.
In India the position has been well recognised that no state can be given an entirely free hand in respect of a common source of water such as an inter-state river. Inter-state rivers are for the general welfare of all the states through which they flow irrespective of political boundaries. The Harmon doctrine has never held sway in India. Under the Government of India Act, 1935, even though water supplies, irrigation canals, drainage and embankments, etc. were included in the Provincial Legislate List, Sections 130 to 132 of the Act imposed certain limitations on the provinces in the use of inter-state river waters. If the action of one province affected or was likely to affect prejudicially the interest of another province, the latter could complain to the Govemor-General under Section 131). Thereupon, after appointing a commission of investigation, the Governor-General or (in certain circumstances) His Majesty in Council could make such orders as he considered proper in the matter and such orders were binding on the concerned province.
Under the Constitution of India also, a co-riparian state is not free to develop an inter-state river regardless of the harm to other co riparian states. This is evident from the fact that the Constitution in Article 262 has empowered Parliament to provide 'for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-state river or river valley.' There would have been no necessity for such a provision if the Harmon doctrine were the governing law. Though Parliament has provided the adjudicatory machinery in the InterState Water Disputes Act, the statute is silent as to the principles to be followed in the settlement of inter-state water disputes. The principle adopted in the resolution of inter-state water disputes in the pre-independent and post-independent period in India, has been the equitable allocation of waters among the states to ensure 'each unit getting a fair share of the water of the common river'.
The fact that there is an internationally accepted principle aimed at a just resolution of river conflicts between countries and between states does not, by itself, ensure justice. First, each basin is so distinct that the most sustainable and just use of water will be diverse, not monolithic. Second, given this ecological diversity, the basic principle of equitable utilisation emerges as vague. This principle is no more than a set of recommendations from a nongovernmental scientific organisation. First, the principle treats water like other resources, static and fixed, to be cut up and divided. But in river waters, what is distributed is a flow-and because water is a flow, not a stock, its distribution has non-heal impacts. The distribution of benefits and losses to regions involved in an upstream-downstream relation, or in non-riparian states deriving water use benefits, are changing over time, as are the implications of the equitable sharing concept. Technological changes which contribute to river water diversions also change the mutual situation and have implications for an equitable sharing concept.
The issue is not one of maintaining a balance between territorial sovereignty and riparian rights. Ecological conflicts over river waters are indicative of the limits within which water re-distribution can take place. While natural flow is not an absolute criterion, conserving rights distributed ecologically is a criterion. Water projects have severe ecological impacts and costs are unequally distributed between states and between social groups. The ecological perspective also helps correct the view that water conserved is water 'wasted'. Ecologically, unexploited water can be critical in maintaining essential ecological processes such as recharge of groundwater, and maintaining the sea water-flesh water balance in the delta.
The ecological links between surface water and groundwater, and between fresh water and the life in the ocean have been totally overlooked in the engineering approach to resource management, which in turn informs legal approaches to rights and entitlements to vital natural resources. Thus, the Krishna Tribunal disassociated the issue of groundwater use in the Krishna basin from the utilisation of the Krishna waters. It stated that the 'use of the underground water by any state shall not be reckoned as use of the water of the river Krishna', and gave the states full freedom to use groundwater. By excluding control over groundwater utilisation, the Krishna Tribunal allowed privatisation and over-exploitation of water resources in the basin, thus opening the way for the emergence of new conflicts, which could have been controlled had water resources been viewed in their totality. Groundwater use was thus left totally uncontrolled leading to acute groundwater depletion in almost all parts of the basin further aggravating water scarcity and drought proneness, and creating new demands for river diversions and inter-basin transfers.
In the Rayalseema region, over-exploitation of groundwater and the collapse of the indigenous system of irrigation has given rise to new demands for the inter-basin diversion of the Krishna basin waters through the Telugu Ganga project. Surface and groundwater cannot be artificially separated because surface water flows recharge groundwater, and groundwater depletion affects the status of surface waters. The problem of waterlogging emerges from having ignored the former link whereas the problem of drought and desertification is due to the neglect of the latter.
Inter-state river conflicts such as those over the sharing of Krishna waters are proving to be beyond solution because a concept of equity that is ecologically sound and socially just has yet to emerge in the utilisation of river waters. In the absence of ecological equity criteria, the diversion of river waters by one state is seen as violation of the rights to water of other states. Water is viewed mechanistically, as existing in a fixed quantity, to be cut up and divided, independent of its functions in nature's economy and the survival economy. The ecological disruption of water flows by river valley projects is the source of conflicts over river waters, but is not perceived as such.
Disputes over dams are struggles between different communities and regions about how much water one region can take from another, or how much environmental damage one group must bear in order to meet the irrigation or energy needs of another group. So far struggles against dams in India have largely originated from the problem of displacement of millions of people who have been rendered homeless overnight by decisions taken by the state. These struggles have remained fights of the displaced citizens against the ruthless state machinery. On the other hand, struggles against the ecological impacts of massive irrigation systems such as waterlogging, and the diseconomies they generate, are often only limited to challenging the distribution end of large water projects, not the large-scale storage systems. Finally, conflicts over water rights have predominantly remained within the domain of states and have taken the form of inter-state conflicts at the regional level. A coherent framework for evolving a just and sustainable policy for water use can only be evolved when there is a feedback between struggles against dams, struggles against the ecological hazards of intensive irrigation and struggles for water rights. The mediating element for this feedback is the ecological perspective which perceives water in all its interconnectedness in the river basin. Such a perspective allows an ecological audit of water projects, bringing out the hidden costs where benefits were assumed, and indicating alternative patterns for resource utilisation which protect the survival base of the people and maintain nature's economy of the essential ecological processes.
The resolution of water conflicts is impossible without two major shifts in the technological and legal approaches to rivers. The first is a shift from the engineering to the ecological approach to water. Such a shift would make it possible to perceive that river water entering the sea is nor a 'waste' but essential to the integrity of the river, and river water being diverted to create waterlogged deserts out of fertile soils through intensive irrigation is a waste.
The second shift is to perceive water rights not merely as rights of states to control water but also as rights of citizens and communities to draw sustenance from water, and to socially control its use within the limits of sustainability and renewability.
The foundations for an ecological and democratic approach to water are already being laid in local initiatives which are searching for alternatives to large-scale, state managed, ecologically and politically disruptive water projects.