|Ecology and The Politics of Survival:Conflicts Over Natural Resources in India|
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|Part Two :Water Conflicts|
The relatedness of water availability in different parts of a basin, and the linkage between land use and water use entails that activities of one kind in one part of the river basin can negatively or positively influence other activities in different parts of the basin. The failure to perceive this interconnectedness in the planning of water utilisation has become a major source of conflict over water use in river basins.
Water allocation between conflicting demands for water have rarely taken full cognizance of the underlying conflicts and have therefore aggravated the problems of inequalities and maldistribution. The four major categories of use on which water planning is based are:
Rarely have conflicts internal to each sector or between sectors been explicitly articulated in water development projects. On the contrary it has been assumed, for instance, that multi-purpose river valley projects that provide irrigation as well as generate hydro-power do not have conflicting uses. I However, the very location of these projects is primarily determined on the basis of either of these objectives and water releases are also determined by priorities for power or for irrigation. Other inter-sectoral conflicts include diversion of water for irrigation from drinking water, or for industry from agricultural and domestic use. Not only do diverse uses conflict with each other inter-sectorally, they can also conflict intra-sectorally on the basis of conflicting interests between the rich and powerful and the poor and marginal. The category 'domestic' as an undifferentiated one conceals the conflict between the poor rural peasants requiring a pot full of drinking water and the rich urban elite using large quantities of water for meeting the requirements of water-intensive sewage systems, space cooling, gardening, etc. Domestic requirements vary for different people and the high demands from urban areas are often met by diverting water from rural areas. Similarly, an undifferentiated category of agriculture conceals conflicts between water-intensive cultivation of commercial crops for high cash returns and prudent water use for protective irrigation of staple food crops essential for survival.
Social conflicts over water can also be analysed at different societal levels. Thus, inter-state conflicts are generated when water projects of upstream states influence the quality and quantity of water flow in the basin and reduce the possibilities of water use by downstream states. Major inter-basin water transfers in rivers flowing through many states also generate conflicts by disturbing the riparian rights of states. Conflicts also arise between the state and the people when official planning and policies lead to changes in water use and utilisation pattern and therefore undermine people's access to water. Thus, state planned quarrying of minerals or timber extraction in the river catchments affect the river flow and generate conflicts downstream. Similarly, state planned agricultural production based on large irrigation projects to generate marketable surpluses of cash crops conflicts with people's needs for local food production. Such projects also lead to conflicts between the state and the people by eroding traditional water rights which are often communal in nature and ensure the survival of all members of the community. Local common management of water resources and the ethics and values on which it is based are frequently modified by government planned and managed water projects aimed at the expansion of commercial agriculture. Finally, state plans tend to serve the interests of the economically and politically powerful groups of society and hence generate new gaps between the rich and poor in terms of access to water resources.
As far as surface and groundwater use is concerned, state intervention has led to the concentration of water access in the hands of the rich thus generating new conflicts between the rich and poor.
Paradigm Conflicts: Ecological and Engineering Approaches to Water Use
Rivers and water resources have been central to the prosperity and survival of the indian civilisation. While our cultural heritage perceived water as the basis of all life having a complex relationship with soils, plants and human needs, the contemporary approach perceives water largely as another raw material input for commodity production in agriculture and industry.
This resource insensitive utilisation has led to rapid disruption of the essential ecological processes that recharge and renew water resources and make them available perennially for the generation of plant, animal and human life. While water is continually flowing across land, from land into the sea, from the sea to the atmosphere and from the atmosphere to the land, its management has focused on water as a stock to be tapped and distributed irrespective of how its utilisation affects the hydrological cycle and the replenishment of water.
Such an approach to water resource management that views water as a stock and not as a flow in the water cycle generates a misconception that through large man-made structures water resources can be augmented. However, water cannot be created. It can be stored, diverted, used, polluted, also over-exploited but its overall availability cannot be enhanced. As Worster states:
There is only so much of it circulating in nature and then there is no more.... Throughout history the water cycle has served humans as the model of the natural world. Early civilizations saw in it a figure of the basic pattern of life, the cycle of birth, death and return to the source of being. More recently science has added to the ancient religious metaphor a new perception: the movement of water in an unending undiminished loop can stand as a model for understanding the entire economy of nature. Looking for a way to make the principles of ecology clear and vivid Aldo Leopold suggested that nature is a 'round river' like a stream flowing into itself, going round and round in an unceasing circuit.... The first commandment for living successfully in nature-living for the long-term at the highest possible level of development-is to understand how the round river and its watershed work together and to adapt our behaviour accordingly. Taking a purely economic attitude towards water, on the other hand is the surest way to fail in that understanding.'
The ecological understanding of water thus involves:
The engineering bias that dominates water development fails to perceive the natural river flows as critical to drainage, to recharge of groundwater, to the maintenance of the balance between fresh water and sea water. The engineering bias in water use results in large projects which produce serious social and ecological instabilities and generate conflicts.
The impounding of water in large dams leads to deforestation in the catchment areas, changes in the micro-climate as well as soil erosion, thus decreasing the availability of water. In the command area, the transport of large volumes of water over long distances leads to wastage of water through seepage. The introduction of large volumes of water beyond the natural drainage capacity of the ecosystem disrupts the hydrological cycle and results in waterlogging and salinity.
During the past three decades India has spent over Rs. 1(X1 billion on developing irrigation facilities and the total area covered by irrigation would be nearly 40 million hectares.
The Kabini project is a good case study of a water development project which led to the disruption of the hydrological cycle in the basin. The Kabini project has a submersion area of 6,000 acres, but it led to the clear felling of 30,000 acres of primeval forests in the catchments to rehabilitate displaced villages. As a consequence, local annual rainfall fell from 60 inches to 45 inches, and high siltation rates have drastically reduced the life of the project. In the command area, large areas of well developed coconut gardens and paddy fields have been laid waste through water-logging and salinity within two years of irrigation from the project. The Kabini project is a classic case of how the water crisis is created by the very projects aimed at increasing water availability or stabilising water flows in the engineering paradigm.
River valley projects are considered the usual solution to meeting the irrigation needs of agriculture, or for controlling floods or mitigating droughts. Over 1,554 large dams have been constructed in India during the past three decades. It is estimated that about 79 million hectare-metres of water can be used annually from the surface flow to view the central role of humus forming trees as the most powerful means for water conservation in vulnerable catchments and in fragile tropical agricultural ecosystems. The integrity of the soil-vegetation-water system is crucial to water conservation both in forests and on farm lands. Water conservation strategies are, therefore, ultimately related to strategies for soil conservation and the conservation of genetic diversity in forests and crop lands. The engineering paradigm.cornes into conflict with an ecological paradigm over the use of river waters, either traditional or modern. Ecological interventions in the tropics take into account the uniqueness and variability in the structure, function and dynamics of tropical ecosytems. Ecological approaches aim at increasing productivity while minimising resource use and wastage.
Ecological paradigms relating to water use recognise that water flowing into the sea is not wasted. It has a vital function in sustaining life in the delta and in the sea. Its flow is critical to maintain the balance between the sea and land. Ecological paradigms also recognise that there is nothing like 'augmenting' wafer. It can be diverted, polluted, misused, ruined, but it can never be deepened or enhanced. The water cycle fixes limits to the quantity of water circulating in nature, and water development cannot transcend those limits. The water cycle is the basic metaphor for ecological balance and maintaining the water cycle is a precondition for a just economic order in which neither the marginal communities today nor future generations tomorrow are denied their right to this resource which is vital for life. Water conflicts provide an opportunity to reassess water use strategies so that our actions are in harmony with rivers, not opposed to them and the life they support. According to Leopold, the elementary need in learning how to farm water effectively is to stop thinking about the problem exclusively as economists and engineers and begin learning the logic of the river. Respecting the integrity of the river amounts to respecting all life that the river supports. Violence to the river is violence to the communities inhabiting a river basin. Such violence must give rise to conflicts which cannot be resolved with further violence. The resolution of conflicts over river waters requires an ecological reorientation in water use which combines justice with sustainability.
Indigenous Systems of Water Management
Large-scale water projects which work against nature's water economy and people's sustenance requirements have been designed by destroying water technologies which were ecologically more sustainable and socially more just.
The tank system of South India is among the indigenous alternatives which has survived over centuries. This system consists of a single series of several hundred and in some cases over a thousand reservoirs linked together and forming such continuous chains of works that not a single drop of water falling in the catchment is lost in times of drought, and very little is lost during normal periods. Major Sankey, one of the first engineers of Mysore State, who concentrated on the systematic repairs of tanks, stated that 'to such an extent has the principle of storage been followed that it would require some ingenuity to discover a site within this great area for a new tank'. These tanks play a central role in irrigation even today. In the Ravalseema region. in the southern part of the Krishna basin, tanks irrigate 620,000 acres while major and minor irrigation projects cover 427,000 acres. In the Anantapur region, river water was diverted with the help of sand dams. These sand dams were constructed in areas like Koppalakonda, Penakacharala, Kalluru, Tarimala and Rachepalli of Anantapur taluk, Panidi, Appeyipeta, Naganapuram and Chitrachedu of Gooty taluk. In places like Ramapuram, Kallavapalle-and Budigamma, the surface flows in the Pennar were diverted through masonry dams called 'Panthams'. In Hospet, Hagari, Rayadurge and Kudligi taluks, channels were constructed to draw water from rivers for irrigation. Similar types of irrigation schemes have also been reported in Dharwar, Bijapur, Sholapur, Satara, Sangli and Ahmednagar districts. Two such major schemes were irrigating nearly 580 acres in Bijapur district. In Madras Presidency, irrigation through small tanks and canals, which the villagers managed themselves, collectively irrigated an area equal to that irrigated by all the larger works which have been constructed by the British government in that Presidency.
An example of indigenous water use was the widespread system of 'Ahars' and 'Pyres' used for irrigation of paddy fields in South Bihar as reported by Sengupta.4 An 'Ahar' is constructed by erecting an embankment 1 or 2 metres in height on the lower ground. From the two extremes of this embankment two other embankments are constructed so as to project towards the higher ground, gradually diminishing in height as the ground level rises and ultimately ending at the ground level. 'Ahars' were built on drainage rivulets to collect water. Constructions with sides more than a kilometre in length and irrigating over a thousand acres of land were frequently found. 'Pyres' on the other hand were systems devised for utilising the water which flows through hilly rivers running from south to north and intersecting the whole country. 'Pyres' were laid off from the rivers to carry water to-agricultural fields. Some of the largest 'Pyres' were 20 to 30 km in length, fielding a number of distributaries and irrigating may be 100 villages.
The system protected agriculture to such an extent that when there was a famine in other parts of the country, Gaya district, where 'Ahars' and 'Pyres' were most evolved, was not affected. However, this immunity was eroded following the deterioration of these irrigation works, which was primarily a consequence of breakdown of economic and social systems which ensured maintenance of the water systems.
The irrigation works in pre-British India were managed by a variety of social organizations within the village community. Usually, the structure of such organisations included a collective of all the beneficiaries of irrigation works, and was headed by a leader. Based on the leadership, the system was known by different names in various regions.
In Maharashtra districts of the basin, the bandharas were managed by such water committees. The task of these committees was to maintain the earthern dam or diversion from the river and to desilt the canals. Similar work was performed by committees in Bijapur, Dharwar, Raichur and Bellary districts of Karnataka. Similar committees were also found in the districts of Andhra Pradesh where there were known as 'pinnapeddandarule' or 'peddandarule' system. The difference between the two was in terms of the members who constituted them. In the 'pinnapeddandarule' system, youth were preferred as the desilting of canals involved hard physical labour. In Krishna district, less labour intensive work was involved hence the membership rules were flexible. Work involved in desilting or erecting canal banks or rebuilding canals was equally shared by all the beneficiaries. Each member or beneficiary was supposed to do his share of work in proportion to the land held. The committee levied a fine on any one who failed to do his share of work, irrespective of the size of his landholding.
Similarly in South Bihar, both the construction and maintenance of water systems was collectively managed. Each cultivator had to contribute labour to a collective system called 'goam' to repair embankments and desilt channels. In South India this practice was known as 'kudimarammath'.
Allocation of water within the villages was also managed by the cultivators themselves. A system known as 'parabandi' was in operation which regulated the distribution of water among the villages from a common source to ensure fair distribution to all the villages. In case of some large works, the rights of each village were formally recorded. In others, the regulations were largely customary. If conflicts arose, they were resolved according to local rights and regulations.
When the British arrived in India, they had no expertise in water management, since agriculture in Europe has never been dependent on irrigation. Arthus Cotton, the founder of modern irrigation programmes wrote:
There are multitudes of old native works in various parts of India. These are noble works, and show both boldness and engineering layout. They have stood for hundreds of years....
When I first arrived in India, the contempt with which the natives firstly spoke of us on account of this neglect of material improvements was very striking, they used to say we were a kind of civilized savages, wonderfully expert about fighting, but so inferior to their great men that we would not even keep in repair the works they have constructed much less even imitate them in extending the system
Greenway, while writing on farming in India, commented on the lack of advanced engineering knowledge of the British which had led to the catastrophe in Sheffield because of the Bradfield dam.
A comparison naturally presents itself between the dam of the Bradfield reservoir, which failed, and the Indian model which has been so long and in so many instances successful, and which if rightly constructed and faithfully attended to, may be regarded as ensuring the maximum of efficiency and safety.
Empirical as the process may appear, practice has made it perfect. Engaged in a continual struggle with the powers of nature, contending with volumes of water far larger, floods far heavier, tempests more violent, than any known in England, the Indian engineers have been forced into devising means, not only to enable a bank to stand a given presence of water, but also to provide resources against contingent risks and accidents, which latter provision, strange to say, appears from the evidence on the inquest of Sheffield not invariably to be considered a part of the engineer's duty.'
The British, however, had to control river water in India keeping in view their economic interest in increasing revenue. In Rajasthan they controlled water to maximise the revenues derived from their monopoly in salt trade, in Bengal to protect their transport network and increase revenues from agriculture. Water politics was thus as transient as the resource itself, to create obey areas and command areas, i.e., areas and people inhabiting them which are callously devastated to cater to the needs of areas and people which are industrialised, urbanised, and politically and economically powerful.
Langdon Winner has suggested that politics is embedded in artifacts. Large water projects definitely have politics built into them. In an attempt to control rivers, they also control the lives of those who depend on the river and its basin for livelihood. Worster has proposed the thesis that making more demands on the earth and devising the means to fulfil them leads to an unequal power division in society. 'Intensification of use eventually must give rise to potent anti-democratic forces whatever their guise may. Karl Wittfogel's idea of a hydraulic society captures the reality of the social organisation created by large dams. Wittfogel's theory is one of power, he holds that control over water leads to control over people.
Wittfogel, however, like Marx before him, perceived the hydraulic society as a reality in Asian civilizations over thousands of years. They assumed that the pervasiveness of and decentralized network irrigation systems was linked to centralized power and that specific individuals conquering river waters turned into a power elite. What Marx and Wittfogel failed to perceive from a distance was that irrigation systems in India were managed by cooperating communities, not dominating bureaucracies, and that decentralized maintenance and use rather than centralised control was the characteristic of India's ancient irrigation systems.
Sengupta has challenged Wittfogel's thesis that domination was characteristic of Asia's water systems. Vast networks of irrigation systems are not necessarily large projects. They can be a closely knit network of micro-projects, each managed locally in terms of construction, maintenance, allocation and conflict resolution among users. Further, stagnation has not been a characteristic of these traditional irrigation systems. Instead, flexibility was often displayed. The cropping patterns were changed annually according to the availability of irrigation water in a particular year. With water resources under local control, local decisions on land use involved less risks and higher certainty. On the other hand modern canal irrigation from large dams centralises water control and distribution. The time of water supply rarely corresponds to the time of requirement and certainty is far less than it would have been had the cultivators themselves distributed the same amount of water through local resources. Correspondingly, they have much less scope to alter their cropping and irrigation practices to suit the availability of water.
Centralised societal domination is, therefore, linked to centralised water control not to vast networks of decentralised waterworks. The power of the modern state over people as exemplified through large dams is qualitatively different from the social organisation of indigenous irrigation systems. Such political control does not merely violate human rights in the present, it threatens to deny future generations the right to life-support systems. Large water projects interfere in a major way with the natural flow of water and the hydrological cycle. Ecological hazards are intrinsically associated with them, which in turn generate another level of conflicts over natural resources. Social control over water use in indigenous systems had prevented both over-use and abuse of water, and avoided a conflict between the use of water for human consumption and its functions in the maintenance of essential ecological processes, central to which is the water cycle.
Colonial Conflicts Over River Waters
Under colonial influence, water was diverted from its role in the survival economy and nature's economy and was transformed into a source of revenue and taxes, or as an input to commodity production for the generation of profits. The introduction of market forces in the water economy of the country created new conflicts over water resources between the market and survival economies.
The salt economy and water conflicts
On 5 April 1930 Mahatma Gandhi launched the national noncooperation movement with the campaign for the production and distribution of salt at Dandi beach in Gujarat, violating the Salt Law of the British that had guaranteed their monopoly in the production and distribution of salt. Salt is a vital resource for the survival of both human and animal life specially in tropical countries like India. It remained a common resource till the British monopolised its production and distribution to transform it into a source of revenue. The growth imperative compelled the expansion of the salt industry, as monopolised by the British, at the cost of diversion of resources from essential economic activities like food production. Further, in order to increase revenue the British government raised the salt tax in 1923 through the Indian Finance Bill of the Viceroy. This triggered off strong protests all over the country since a basic resource like salt was being denied to the people in order to increase revenue. The anguish of Gandhi on this appropriation of a common resource was clear when he said,
They even tax our salt-a necessity of life, only less necessary than air and water. It ought to be free as they are.... Nature bestows it on us and we may not use it. There is salt beside the sea and they forbid us to gather it's
The production of salt in certain pockets like Rajasthan and in the coastal areas as well as its distribution in all parts of the country had been a part of the living history of the Indian civilisation. Salt is one of those commodities which cannot be produced everywhere notwithstanding the self-sufficiency of the village economies. The demand for salt from all parts of the country led to the establishment of salt industries wherever it was possible to extract salt from saline water. All along the coastline except in Bengal, salt was manufactured by digging hollows in the ground and allowing the saline water to evaporate.
The Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan was a major inland source of salt for the whole of Central India. The manufacture and trade of this essential commodity and the possibility of a high margin of profits in case of monopoly in production, led to the East India Company securing the entire lake. In 1870 the British government forced a treaty on the States of Jodhpur and Jaipur through which it acquired the right of not only manufacturing and selling salt but also levying a duty on it. The peculiarity of the Sambhar Lake is that there is no rock salt bed in the geological formation of the area. The salt granules in the great salt marsh of Kutch are carried north-east by the trade winds in the summer and deposited in the catchment of the Sambhar Lake. In the monsoons the salt granules are dissolved and the solution is carried into the lake by a large number of streams. the largest of which is Rupnagar. Through the quick evaporation of water from the lake. millions of tons of salt get deposited in the Sambhar Lake. According to the British estimates of that period. 46 million people in India depended on supplied from this lake. This made the control of this 9(\ sq miles lake economically valuable for the growth of the salt industry
Though the British salt industry in India grew by more than 33 per cent in the first twenty years of its existence, it was not content with only monopoly in production and distribution. To enhance the profits and growth of the industry, the British had maximised the inflow of water into the Sambhar Lake by denying the more basic uses of water for irrigation and drinking. Rupnagar, the largest stream feeding the lake, was the main source of water for the State of Kishengarh whose most important economic activity was agriculture which depended solely on the water of Rupnagar for irrigation. Thus the British attempt to increase the inflow of water into the lake came into direct conflict with the survival needs of the people in Kishengarh.
In 1900, a famine year, Kishengarh wanted to store some water by constructing an embankment tank on Rupnagar. The salt authorities strongly opposed this use of water for drinking and irrigation by the people. The Finance and Commerce Department of the then Government of India promptly accorded higher priority to the interest of the salt industry as opposed to the water needs for the survival of the people of Kishengarh. In a note dated 13 July 1901 the Department issued the following statement:
In view of the way in which the manufacture of salt depends on a sufficient supply of water in the lake and the precariousness of the supply, the Govt. of India consider that it is most inadvisable that anything should be done in the shape of constructing new reservoirs, irrigation works, or of extending any existing works on any of the feeder streams of the lake, either in the British territory or in native states which will be likely to diminish supply....
The Government of India desires that in future the Salt Commissioner may be consulted before any of the existing works' in British territory or the native states are enlarged, strengthened or improved.
In 1906 the villages of Kishengarh faced a severe drought. In sheer desperation to ensure a minimum supply of water for the biological survival of human and animal life, the people built an earthen dam which the British promptly destroyed. In the same year the rulers of Kishengarh pleaded for permission to construct low masonry weirs across Rupnagar and to sink some wells. The Salt Commissioner made sure that these projects could not be undertaken.
It is this undisclosed destruction of agricultural ecosystems in the catchment of the Sambhar Lake that made possible and visible the growth of the salt industry there. By 1922 the prosperous and populated Kishengarh was desolate. Large areas of cultivable land became waste and wells could no longer be used. Another desperate attempt by the kingdom of Kishengarh to construct four irrigation tanks was postponed for twenty-four years, thus ensuring the total destruction of the local agricultural economy.
This was the general pattern of destruction of the survival base of the people in all regions of the country where the salt monopoly led to economic growth for British interests. This monopoly forced the people to give up the production of a basic resource like salt, which was being produced by them with simple technologies that required no capital input. The control made people totally dependent on the British supply, to be bought at a price determined by British interests. It was this exploitation by the British through the denial of a basic need as well as the associated destruction of other related resources that led to non-violent violation of the Salt Law as an assertion of the people's right to vital natural resources for survival. As a mode of protest it spread throughout the country with people breaking the Salt Law in large numbers. Its impact, both immediate and long-term was immense. By 5 March 1931 the British government was compelled to retrace its steps and issued a notification that people could produce salt for their own use.
The damodar canal and water conflicts
Burdwan district of Bengal lies in the Damodar river basin. Irrigation in this district, as in other parts of Bengal, was based on the overflow irrigation system. This ancient system of water use had met the needs of rural Pengal for more than 2,000 years. It provided a single solution to Bengal's inter-locking problems of flood and malaria control, cheap inland transport for the better part of the year, and renewal of soil fertility. This ecological management of common resources led to the establishment of a community organization based on irrigation rights which required every individual to regard his neighbour's interest as his own.
Being a tropical monsoon region, Bengal receives heavy rainfall in the wet season. But due to high percolation rates, the groundwater level declines rapidly after the rains and a serious shortage of water occurs at a time when it is most needed. As a result tanks and wells dry up. The only solution is to maintain saturation of the subsoil by impounding as much rainfall as possible on the surface and keeping it there for as long as possible. Earlier this was done by flooding the tanks and rice fields with the muddy spill of the rivers in spate and by storing rain water in tanks which at one time numbered over 50,000 in Burdwan district alone. Percolation from rice fields and storage tanks maintained the underground reserve of water at a level 10 to 15 feet higher than that at present and prevented the drying up of wet crops in summer and of wells and tanks in the dry season. A system of inundation canals was in operation in Bengal from ancient times. The silt bearing top film of water from flooded rivers was allowed to flow into the rice fields, where the silt was deposited. River silt is very high in manure. It enriched the crops as well as killed noxious weeds in tanks and in the rice fields. Every tank had its distributary to flush it, and every rice field had its distributary to irrigate it. The silt also carried carp eggs. Carp, being larvicidal fish, devour the larvae of the anapholis, thus controlling malaria and at the same time providing the much needed nourishment to the rice-eating peasantry. Removal of silt from the river water prevented the silting up of the rivers at the mouth so that there were no floods.
The political destabilisation of Bengal led to the ecological disruption of this highly efficient system. The water channels were silted up and were declared to be 'dead' or 'blind' by ignorant British engineers. A series of devastating floods followed and by treating the symptoms instead of the cause, the problem was further aggravated. The erection of embankments to protect the Eastern Bengal Railway cut across the natural contours of land, disrupting the natural drainage, causing severe ecological problems and hardships to the once prosperous peasantry.
At the end of the eighteenth century the British took over the responsibilities and liabilities of maintaining the irrigation system with its water resources, spill channels, streams dykes, pools, tanks and embankments. However, the government failed to keep its promise and worked in the opposite direction by making the left embankment watertight. As a result, its innumerable spill channels were closed, and subsequently, the zamindars and tenants made a number of secret breaches through the embankment. In the period between 185-59 the government cut off 20 miles of embankment on the right side of the Damodar with a view to protecting the Railways and the Grand Trunk Road. This led to silting up of the river bed, death of the live channels and stagnation of water due to disruption of natural drainage. This was followed by severe epidemic of malaria which wiped out one-third of the total population in a district in a decade. Areas that were once famous as 'health resorts' became 'decadent areas'.
Sir William Willcocks, one of the greatest irrigation engineers the world has ever known, pleaded in vain for some funds to resuscitate these 'dead rivers' with the cooperation of the peasantry. Once the vicious circle of destruction was broken, the project would run itself and pay its way. But the irrigation and survival needs of the peasantry came into conflict with the interests of railway transport and stream navigation river flotilla companies. The use of water that could have restored to the peasantry'the old prosperous days when irrigation with the muddy water of the Ganges flood was the heritage of all"' was not attempted because spillways and railways were mutually exclusive in the Burdwan tract. Millions were spent on the externalities of the watertight embankments, malaria and flood control projects. For seventy years, embankments were allowed 'to impoverish lands, and impoverish people and affect them with malaria, when a trifling expenditure of the money could bring relief'. In the words of Sir William Willcocks,
The irrigation Department has tried its hand at every kind of irrigation except the ancient irrigation. The resulting poverty of soil, destruction of fish, introduction of malaria and congestion of the rivers have stalled the canals and banks, and the country is strewn today with the wrecks of useless and harmful works.
To compensate the people of Burdwan the government constructed the Eden Canal in 1881 and the Damodar Canal in 1933. The latter was intended to irrigate 20,000 acres of rice lands of 379 villages at the cost of Rs. 1.25 crores. After the inauguration of the canal, the government planned to realise a part of the capital expenditure by imposing a canal tax on the ryots. As the tax was heavy, the peasants refused to execute any lease in order to use the canal water. As a result the government introduced a legislation to impose a compulsory levy. The Bengal Development Bill 1935 was introduced by Khwaja Nazamuddin on 18 February 1935 which provided for the improvement of land in Bengal and the imposition of a levy in respect of increased profit resulting from the improvement works constructed by the government. The aim was to induce people to use canal water and to convert this consumption into a source of revenue. The Bill, it was argued, would not only compel the ryots to pay up to half of their increased profits, but would also enable them to make increased profits by taking advantage of the improvements. The Minister stated that peasants did not use canal water in a normal rainfall year but viewed irrigation as an insurance against the failure of monsoon. The Bill was aimed at 'not allowing any man to indulge in the luxury of not consuming canal water during normal rainfall years by making every man pay an improvement levy of Rs. 5.80 per acre per annum irrespective of the benefits derived or likely to be derived from the irrigation facilities of the canal.
The Bengal Development ' Bill was obviously resented by the Burdwan peasantry for whom it became yet another source of colonial exploitation. In the later thirties the popular discontent gathered momentum in the command of the Damodar Canal over the Bengal Development Act and the improvement levy. A movement crystallized as the Damodar Canal Tax movement. An association called the Burdwan District Raiyats Association was formed with D.P. Choudhury and Balai Chand Mukhopadhyay as President and Secretary, respectively to oppose the Act and the canal tax. On 20 December 1935, peasants from 500 villages of the Damodar Canal area held a mass meeting under the auspicious of the Raiyats Association. The meeting adopted a number of resolutions challenging the estimates of produce of land in the precanal and post-canal days and the Development Act. By the beginning of February the agriculturists of the canal areas were seriously affected, due to the enforcement of the Development Act. The government began harrassing poor cultivators for the realisation of the canal tax and made an effort to recover the arrears of taxes. On 10 February the cultivators' grievances were brought to the notice of the Burdwan Maharaja who suggested a public protest meeting be held to air the grievances of the ryots. On 14 February 1937, about 1,000 representatives of the cultivators of the Damodar Canal area attended a conference and resolved,
That in the opinion of the conference the principles underlying the Bengal Development Act and sections thereunder were arbitrarily opposed to the interests of the prajas and krishaks in general in the sense that they had been placed outside the jurisdiction of the civil court so that the appreciation of the Act might make the executive officers all powerful and give them absolute, arbitrary and unfettered authority which was sure to be used to oppress the ryots, that an estimate of the surplus produce of lands in the Damodar Canal area made by the officials of the irrigation Department was devoid of logic and was not based on facts, that the amount of paddy produced in the canal area did not admit of a taxable surplus after the deductions for payment of rent to the zamindar and expenditure on cultivations
The Canal tax agitation emphasised that since there had been no development and no increased amount of land situated in the Damodar Canal area, no improvement levy could be imposed under the Bengal Development Act 1935. The levy was linked to the government's extravagant capital expenditure, not to the paying capacity of the agriculturists or benefits, if any, derived by them. The improvement levy was thus totally illegal, unjust. unreasonable and contrary to the facts and opposed to justice. The peasants insisted that the cost of the works be recovered from the East Indian Railways, the Grand Trunk Road, Burdwan-Kawa Railway, Bengal-Nagpur Railway, the city of Calcutta and other vested interests who had really benefited from the canal. Further, they also clarified that since they derived benefits from the canal only once in seven or eight years when drought occurred, they should bear only that cost.
The Congress, which had also joined the agitation, set up its own inquiry committee. The report of the committee established that the Damodar Canal had not to any appreciable extent increased the productivity of the area served by it. The yield per acre prior to the construction of the canal was about 24 maunds and it remained at the same level after the canal had started functioning. The report also highlighted the fact that the 'Damodar Carnal project was never meant for irrigation purposes alone. It was intended "inter alia" that the canal should protect the railways, the G T Road, the Burdwan town, the port of Calcutta, etc. by modulating the strength of the Damodar flood. It recommended reduction of the tax on cultivators to reflect better the benefits against drought provided by the canal. As a result, the government reduced the levy to Rs. 2-9-0) per acre. But even this amount was too high. In 1939, the government started attaching movable properties of the defaulters in the canal area. The local cultivators were determined to launch a satyagraha movement till the tax was further reduced to Rs. 1-8 O. per acre. The government on the other hand, sent a large contingent of Gorkha soldiers to bring the situation under control. Section 144 was promulgated, prohibiting public meetings. The 'policy of terrorisation' forced the peasantry to give up their agitation for a reduction in the canal tax. The people subsequently accepted the government rate of Rs. 2-9) per acre and paid the arrears.
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.
Drought and water scarcity are usually problems for which gigantic water projects are offered as a solution. Thus, the recurrent drought in Rayalseema is cited as the mam reason for the construetion of the Telugu Ganga Canal. As an expert committee of Andhra Pradesh states, 'For irrigation use, water is a priceless -treasure, since without water there can be no irrigation and without irrigation successful crop production is not possible in the arid and semi-arid regions of Rayalseema'.
Rayalseema. like other arid regions of India, has been supported by a large network of tanks. The construction of tanks for irrigation is an ancient practice, going hack to over 1,()()0 years. The tanks constructed before the Vijayanagar period, are shallow with long hunds. During the Vijayanagar period, an attempt was made to select gorges and construct high embankments to form larger reservoirs. Examples of such tanks are Cumbam tank, Bukkapatnam tank, and Porumilla tank. Even today. tank irrigation in Rayalseema covers 6.2()1 lakh acres, compared to 4.272 lakh acres under major irrigation. The fact that Rayalseema is a drought prone area is partly a result of the breakdown of the tank maintenance systems and partly due to the over-exploitation of the limited water resources of the region.
An example of how the breakdown of the ancient tank system was facilitated is the cessation of maintenance of percolation tanks during the colonial period. Percolation tanks are tanks that recharge the groundwater level for wells and downstream tanks. Since they contribute to nature's economy and the survival economy, and not directly to the commercial economy, they were not sources of revenue for the British. During the British rule when the maintenance grant was linked with the area irrigated, ponds and percolation tanks ceased to receive any maintenance grant unlike other minor irrigation tanks as there was no direct ayacut (command area). This marked the beginning of the end of this system. In more recent times, uncontrolled exploitation of scarce groundwater with energized has led to the drying up of wells and tanks, thus creating a permanent water scarcity. Financial support given to energised pumps has contributed immensely to the rapid utilisation of groundwater. According to Dakshinamurti et al.,
It is seen that from 1950 to 1960 the development of groundwater was about 2.5 p. c. on linear basis, based on the area irrigated from groundwater resources during the year 1950-51. The growth rates from 1960 61 to 1964 65 was 3.7 p. c. It suddenly rose up to 19 p. c. from 1964-65 to 1968 69. This sudden and high increase in growth rate has been due to the advent of high yielding crop varieties, mobilization of institutional resources for financing the programmes and stepping up of rural electrification.
Most groundwater utilisation in India is from the shallow aquifer zone with a depth of less than 400 500 feet. While pumps have been distributed liberally to encourage irrigation in arid and semiarid areas, the close hydrological link between the local surface water sources, dug wells and shallow aquifer borewells have not been given due importance. As a result, while drought is mitigated for farmers growing cash crops, energised pumpsets are creating drought for marginal and poor peasants by lowering the water table to a level that is below their reach. This phenomenon has become so pervasive in the hard rock areas of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, etc. that large areas have been blacklisted to stop groundwater over-exploitation. However, in the absence of a proper legislative instrument, groundwater drought is being increasingly created.
In arid regions, where rainfall is low, there is even less percolation into the ground and the recharge of groundwater correspondingly lower. Local rainfall, in the final analysis, is the only source of groundwater recharge, particularly in the non-alluvial regions. Raghava Rao et al." have given the percentage of rainfall available for recharge in different regions (Table 9.1).
Table 9.1 Percentage Rainfall Infiltration to Groundwater Body in Different Rock Types and Formations
Rainfall Infiltrating to
|1. Hard rock formations and Deccan traps||10|
|2. Consolidated rocks (Sandstone)||5-10|
|3. River alluvia||15-21|
|4. Indo Gangetic alluvium||20|
|5. Coast alluvia||10-15|
|6. Western Rajasthan dune sand||2|
|7. Intermontane valleys||15-20|
Sustainable limits for groundwater exploitation are therefore very low. When the rate of withdrawal of groundwater exceeds the rate of recharge through percolation, groundwater starts getting depleted. Continuous over-exploitation of groundwater then drains the surface water resources in the tanks or dug-wells, making them dry for longer periods in the year. In this process the weaker and poorer households are adversely affected because the rich can tap water at deeper levels.
Groundwater depletion has created permanent drought conditions in most parts of peninsular India. With shallow aquifers totally exhausted, dug-wells and tanks will not store water for very long. This further encourages groundwater based irrigation, sometimes with the declared objective of drought relief. The case of Rayalseema in Andhra Pradesh and other areas in Maharashtra, which include some of India's most drought prone areas, are proof of this. A study by Olsen on Rayalseema concluded that:
Irrigation has left us with the popular perception that this drought is more severe and more permanent than any past drought. Climate change is a myth brought on by the novelty of exponential growth in water usage... the falling water-table is evidence of overuse of water, not of climatic change."
Olsen shows that in fact there is hardly any meteorological change in terms total annual rainfall in Rayalseema over the forty year period from 1946 to 1985 (Table 9.2).
The rise in the number of electric pumpsets in the same region during 1968 84 is shown in Table 9.3.
Table 9.2 Avenge Annual Rainfall in Rayalseema 1946-85
Table 9.3 Number of Electric Pumpsets
|Increase of 1984 over 1968 (per cent)||207||276||246||376|
Source: AP State Electricity Board figures.
In Maharashtra, depletion of groundwater can be directly linked to the increase in energised pumpsets, particularly to irrigate sugarcane. While sugarcane is cultivated on only 2 to 3 per cent of the land, it consumes several times more water than other irrigated crops. This has necessitated intensive use of groundwater leading to the drying up of wells, both shallow and deep. The sugar factories have been actively supporting their shareholders in deepening their borewells. As a result, public wells and shallow wells belonging to small farmers have become dry. During the Sixth Plan, 15,302 out of 17,112 villages with water problems were provided with water, and the remaining 1,810 villages still faced problems. The rapid depletion of groundwater resources has, however, increased the number of problem villages, with no source of drinking water, to a staggering 23,000. This tremendous scarcity is clearly linked with the over-exploitation of groundwater for sugarcane and the repeated failure of food crops. The government, refusing to recognise the role of sugarcane, cites drinking water scarcity as the reason for increased grants for water development and the failure of food crops as the reason for drought relief. In spite of this, sugarcane cultivation and production is rapidly increasing. In the area around one sugar factory alone, sugarcane cultivation with groundwater irrigation has increased dramatically over two decades, as can be seen from Table 9.4.
Table 9.4 Growth of Irrigated Sugarcane in a Region of Maharashira
The shift from rainfed coarse grain crops to irrigated cash crops, in this case sugarcane, has meant higher incomes. But the costs have been heavy. Manerajree village of Tasgaon taluk is among those that have benefited financially but have lost materially because of sugarcane production and the related increase in groundwater exploitation. A new water scheme with a potential supply of 50,000 litres was commissioned in November 1981 at the cost of Rs.6.93 lakhs. The source well yield lasted only a year, it was dry by November 1982. For increasing yields, three bores each 60 metros deep were made near the well. Together they yielded (with power pumps) 50,000 litres a day in 1982, however all the wells had gone dry by November 1983. In 1984 one borewell of 60 metres depth was dug in the village but this too was found to be dry. Another bore of 200 metres depth provided water for a short time before running dry. More than 2,000 privately owned wells in this sugarcane region have also dried up. At present, water is being brought by tankers from a distance of 15 km.
The expansion of intensive irrigation for increasing sugarcane cultivation was a planned development activity. In 1972, the World Bank gave a credit of US $30 million to finance farmers' investments to expand the irrigation potential. During the three year period of the Maharashtra Agricultural Credit project, it was planned that 300 new tube-wells would be dug at the cost of US $2.5 million to irrigate 6,000 hectares, 11,000 new dug-wells would be energised costing US $27.5 million to irrigate 60,000 hectares, and 175 lift irrigation schemes would be installed costing US $11.5 million to irrigate 40,000 hectares. It was the policy of the World Bank project to finance the expansion of sugarcane. Estimations of changes in the cropped area due to the Agricultural Credit project of the World Bank indicated that the project would lead to a decline in staple foodgrain production, and an expansion of commercial crops like sugarcane. The area under jowar was expected to decrease from 101,450 hectares to 98,900 hectares, i.e., a decrease of 2,55() hectares. Pulses cultivation was expected to come down from 31,55() to 22,2()() hectares. a decline of 9,35() hectares. On the other hand, the area under sugarcane was expected to more than double, from 3,600 hectares to 8,2()0 hectares. Given that a hectare of sugarcane uses 300 hectare cm of water, while a hectare of jowar uses 21, and a hectare of pulses uses only 15 in terms of water use, the planned increase in sugarcane cultivation in a drought prone area was a prescription for desertification. Ironically, the World Bank project to expand intensive irrigation was launched in one of the worst drought years in Maharashtra. Its guiding principle was that there was adequate water for irrigation.
While experience in many districts indicates the relation between over-exploitation of groundwater and a serious decline in the water table, the current thinking in international agencies and government seems to be based on an intentionally created picture of groundwaterabundance in all parts of the country. In fact according to a recent document of the Water Resources Ministry, even the districts marked as negative balance districts in the 1982 report of the Central Groundwater Board have been shown as positive balance districts (Table 9.5).
Table 9.5 Dangerous Inconsistency in Groundwater Availability between 1982 Data of CGWB and 1987 Data of a Recent Document of the Ministry of Water Resources (all units in million cubic metres)
|Chinoor||825||1909||828||746||- 003||+ 1163|
The document (Annexure with the draft water policy) gives the figure of 41.9 million hectare metres as the utilisable groundwater resources and shows a net positive balance groundwater potential of 31.4 million hectare metres after deducting 10.5 million hectare metres as net draft. This would have been a very comfortable situation if these figures did not totally contradict scientific evaluations of the groundwater situation. Dakshinamurti e' al. points out in clear terms that the working group of the Planning Commission on the Task Force on Ground Water Resources estimated that the total usable ground water potential would be only 75 to 80 per cent of the net ground water recharge available and recommended a figure of 20.36 million hectare metres per year as the long term potential for ground water development in India.... The total utilization of ground water, inclusive of irrigation, industry. domestic, and livestock has been estimated at 11.61 million hectare metres in 1988 89 as against 20.36 million hectare metres of the estimated total usable ground water available in the country. It is thus visualised that the entire potential is likely to be tapped even before the end of the Seventh Five-Year Plan (19~89) unless the recharge rate is increased by suitable ground water recharging techniques.
Other man-made factors have also contributed to groundwater drought. In the Kolar district of Karnataka, earlier well known for water conservation through a large number of tanks, field studies by the authors have established that the uncontrolled expansion of Eucalyptus plantations and the unscientific use of groundwater for irrigating cash crops like grapes, vegetables and flowers, have resulted in groundwater drought leading in turn to the rapid drying up of surface water sources. The traditional tank system was a mechanism for increasing the recharge of groundwater by increasing percolation from surface storage of rain water. The signs of erosion of these indigenous percolation tanks were observed during the colonial period, and since then' their decay has continued. The British had linked maintenance grants of waterworks with revenue, and since percolation tanks had no irrigation command, they ceased to get these grants. The destruction of village panchayats, and the establishment of zamindars and imamdars also led to the decay of these tanks. The current groundwater drought has created a readiness among villagers to re-establish collective control of water use and carry out restoration of traditional tanks and ponds. However, the present official policy seems to be oriented more towards privitisation of groundwater and its uncontrolled exploitation. It rewards those individuals and groups who have acted irresponsibly in matters concerning water. As access to water narrows down to those who can afford to regularly deepen their energised wells for irrigation of cash crops, the disparity between the rich and the poor farmers is getting more pronounced. Water 'development' as conventionally conceived, has a severe polarising effect in rural society.
Ecologically destructive development programmes have transformed temporary meteorological drought into a long-term ecological process of desertification arising from groundwater and surface water drought. This has serious political and economic ramifications? since the costs are borne by the poor and marginal groups, while short-term benefits accrue to the rich sections rural communities. As Gupta has pointed out, 'planners must recognize that drought and its debilitating effects are triggered off by the same set of macro-economic policies which generate surplus.
Operationalising changes in policy and management of land and water will remain a difficult task, since the macro to micro shift has important cognitive, organizational, political and financial implications. Also, it is difficult to impress upon politicians that they should agree to a programme where they will not have opportunity to enjoy political gains by 'bringing' water to a region by 'sanctioning' a canal; it is equally difficult to impress upon the extremely powerful construction industry that collecting water in large dams may not be in the best economic interests of the country. This is apparent from the manner in which the large dam lobby has been able to obtain clearance for the Rs. 25,000 crores, twenty-five year Narmada project in the face of opposition by environmentalists throughout the country! It is equally difficult to make the technocrats accept a system where their grip on the distribution of irrigated water to water starved farms will be less critical. It is no less difficult to convince the grapeiproducing farmers that wine is not as essential as water, in order to stop overuse of groundwater. And finally, it is difficult to make any government agree to a programme that reduces the importance of 'relief' by controlling floods and drought ecologically. Over the years, 'relief' has ensured the survival of individual politicians more effectively than the survival of the suffering population. Ecological water resource use will face the real challenge in the political arena. As the water crisis intensifies, control over water will become an issue of major political conflict. Large-scale collection and distribution of water, while it may not have the sanction of science, will have the support of vested groups and the new caste system that has evolved around the new temple of India-large dams. The challenge would entail the capturing of the proverbial water god (Indradev) in millions of smaller reservoirs and tanks through a people's programme. When water resources are considered from the ecological perspective, when the entire river basin from the catchment to the delta areas is viewed as a whole, when the water budget is planned on the basis of overall development of the people, many of the acute inter-state conflicts will subside. For example, the confrontation and confusion over the Telugu Ganga project will subside once the basic assumption, that dry areas are incapable of improving without irrigation water brought Mom long distances, is questioned.
Experiments like the Pani Panchayat movement and the Mukti Sangarsh movement are showing the direction for the ecological and equitable use of water. Ecological principles ensure equity, since limiting water use to protective irrigation makes it possible to distribute water equally to all families.
The Pani Panchayat movement launched by the Gram Gourav Pratisthan (GOP) in Pune district in Maharashtra is an example of a people centred effort to create an ecological and equitable system of water use in a drought prone area.- It was launched in 1972 when Maharashtra was facing a severe drought. The government focused on relief schemes and rapid exploitation of water resources. Salunke, who established the GGP, realised that the focus had to be soil and water conservation as well as strict water control.
The experience with government initiated irrigation schemes has demonstrated the conflict between the survival needs of the community and the drive for profits of those individuals who can monopolise irrigation water for cash crop cultivation. Sugarcane has become the most important cash crop in the drought affected regions of Maharashtra. Since sugarcane requires a large amount of water, it diverts water both from the survival economy as well as nature's economy. The water demands for different crops are shown in Table 9.6.
The employment generated through equivalent water use for different crops is shown in Table 9.7.
Thus while from the point of view of the farmer with access to inputs for sugarcane, this crop is the most profitable, from the point of view of public interest it is extremely wasteful and resource destructive.
To prevent the waste of scarce water resources through unjust and ecologically destructive cropping patterns, the Pani Panchayats were formed. The central idea underlying the formation of the Pani Panchayats is that in a drought prone area, no individual should be deprived of a rightful share of the limited water resources on which life and livelihood depend. To ensure equity, the Pani Panchayats treat water as a community resource, not as private property. Further, water rights are based on the number of family members, not on the size of landholdings. While members of the panchayat were free to decide how to use their water allocation, sugarcane cultivation was completely banned as being inconsistent with the principles of responsible resource use. A suitable 'Patkari', or water distributor, is appointed by the Pani Panchayat to assure fair day-to-day allocations of water to all its beneficiaries. The experiments of the Pani Panchayat have demonstrated that it is possible to treat water as a common resource, not as private property, and that the community management of a scarce common resource is necessary to ensure justice and sustainability.
|Quantity of Water
|Total Number of
Table 9.7 Value and Employment Generated by 300 Hectare Centrimeter of Water l
Hectar cm of Water
from Area lrrigated
|Man-days of Work
Generated from Area
Note: 1 hectare cm is the amount of water required to cover hectare to a depth of 1 centimetre Source Gram Gourav Pratisthan
The Mukti Sangarsh movement was launched in 1982-83 when striking textile workers from Bombay returned to their villages, to find that the problems of drought, of continual crop failure, and water shortage were the most overriding concern of the people of Khanapor taluk. While the government proposed its 'Takari Scheme' to lift water from the Krishna to irrigate sugar plantations in thirty villages; the people had alternative plans. Over 500 peasants of Balawadi village met and suggested a proposal to grow fodder for four months of the year on 2,000 acres of their land and provide it free to the entire taluk if the government would provide water. On 25 September 1985, 1,000 peasants marched to the taluk office to press their demands. The main thrust of the proposal was to prove that it is possible to distribute water equitably for protective irrigation of food crops if irrigation water is not diverted to the cultivation of water-intensive perennial cash crops like sugarcane. On 27 October, the Mukti Sangarsh movement organised a conference on drought eradication. At the conference V.M. Dandekar, the Chairman of the Maharashtra State Drought Relief and Eradication Committee, argued that a scientific reformulation of the Takari Scheme could provide water for 250,000 hectares instead of the proposed 90,000 hectares for sugarsane cultivation. The only obstacle were the sugar barons who wanted to monopolise water for their own profits. Dandekar proclaimed that, 'Water is the wealth of the nation. It is now necessary to fight those who don't and won't understand that it is a matter of social justice to provide it to as many families and villages as possible.' In response, a politician supporting the sugar lobby, stated in the Maharashtra legislature, 'We will not give one drop of water from sugarcane; instead a canal of blood will flow. Cane and sugar factories are the glory of Maharashtra..
On 5 March 1989, the people of Khanapur taluk gathered at Balawadi to inaugurate a people's dam called the 'Baliraja Smriti Dharan' (Baliraja Memorial Dam) built with people's resources to meet people's needs. Popular participation has excluded corruption, waste and delay and has shown that people are capable of managing their own affairs. The next step is to ensure equitable distribution of water through social and collective control over water use. For example, it has been agreed upon that sugarcane would not be cultivated. The aim is to plant mixed tree species on 30 per cent of the land, with protective irrigation for staple grain, to ensure an economically and ecologically sound alternative to the policy for creating a water crisis through the expansion of sugarcane cultivation.
Initiatives like those of the Mukti Sangarsh and Pani Panchayat indicate that sustainability in water use can only emerge from the democratic control over water resources. Popular control simultaneously avoids ecological breakdown as well as social conflict.
Indigenous systems of water management had evolved highly complex mechanisms to ensure the equitable distribution of water in spite of inequality in landownership. Such organisations as 'Kudimarramat' were based on principles of local and collective self-management. The solution to man-made water scarcity as well as the conflicts that such scarcity generates lies in the recognition of the view that water is a common resource and can be sustainably and equitably managed only on the basis of collective control and decision-making. It is from these local initiatives and our ancient history of water management that concepts of water rights will emerge which are simultaneously ecological and just.
Water is a fluid resource, constantly moving between the atmosphere, land and sea; flowing through minerals, plants and soil. Mountain catchments are the source of all water streams, creating rain through their orography, and capturing it in the natural reservoirs created by forests and geological structures. Mining in the catchments can lead to ecological havoc in the water systems. It can generate severe conflicts between the role of minerals in the market economy, for which they must be mined and removed, and the role of geological structures in nature's economy of maintaining the water cycle.
Be it coal for the generation of energy, iron ore for export and the growth of the national steel industry, bauxite for feeding the Japanese aluminium plants, or limestone for the cement industry- exploitation of mineral resources is the material basis of the industrial economy.
Yet in every region citizens are willing to lay down their lives to stop mining operations which, behind the facade of development, destroy the material basis of the survival of large numbers of local people. Women of the Gandhamardan Hills and of the villages of the picturesque Doon Valley, the tribals of Chhattisgarh, Singrauli, and Santhal Parganas have carried out month long blockades against mining operations in their hills. If, for various geological reasons, the mountains of India are repositories of the richest minerals, they are also the central features of our life-support systems.
While historically human settlements have tended to flourish mainly in the plains, Indian civilisation recognised the central role of mountains in ensuring survival in the densely populated river basins and valleys. The mountains in which our major rivers rise have, accordingly, been protected. Mountain watersheds have often been treated as sacred and have been conserved. The sacred Himalaya is the source of the major rivers of North India-the Ganga, the Yamuna, the Brahmaputra and their many tributaries. The Vindhya and Satpura Ranges feed the Tapti, the Narmada. the Sone, the Mahanadi, etc. The Western Ghats are the origin of the major rivers of peninsular India like the Godavari, the Krishna and the Kaveri. These rivers are the lifeline of the economy. and the mountains from which they renew their flow are the foundation for a stable economy.
The main contribution of the mountains to the country has been their role in providing perennial water resources. Through their orographic influence, mountains induce precipitation of water from the atmosphere. Through their natural forest cover. along with their geological structures, mountains convert seasonal rainfall into perennial water resources. Unfortunately, the hydrological role of the mountains has been totally ignored by the champions of industrial growth for whom the mountains are mere sources of unexploited raw materials.
The most well known people's movement against ecologically destructive mining is in the Doon Valley villages of Nahi-Kala and Thano, where activists of the Chipko movement are working with local communities to draw attention to the fact that mining of limestone has totally undermined the material basis of survival of the people.
Miles away from the Doon Valley, in Orissa, adivasi women of the 'Save Gandhamardan' movement embraced the earth singing Mati Devata, Dharam Devata (the earth is our God) to blockade the movement of vehicles of the Bharat Aluminium Company. BALCO had come in search of bauxite deposits in Gandhamardan after having destroyed the hydrological stability and sanctity of another important mountain-Amar Kantak-the source of the waters of the Narmada. the Sone and the Mahanadi rivers. The destruction of Amar Kantak was a high cost to pay for reserves which were much smaller than the original estimate. To feed its one lakh tonne aluminium plant at Korba in Madhya Pradesh.
Balco has moved to orissa to exploit the sacred gandhamardan hills, a storehouse of invaluable plant diversity and water resources. The forests of Gandhamardan have a rich stock of herbs with high medicinal value and feed twenty-two perennial streams and four waterfalls which feed the Ong and Sukhtel tributaries of the Mahanadi.
Since 1985 the tribals have obstructed the work of BALCO and have refused to be tempted by the company's offer of employment. Even police help has failed to weaken their determined protest.
The conflict is totally unnecessary because aluminium production has turned out to be a losing enterprise in India in market terms. BALCO incurred a loss of Rs. 77 crores in 1985 86 alone. Its cumulative net loss up to March 1986 stood at Rs. 317 crores. Future prospects of the company to make profits also seem dismal. The irrationality of destroying precious water resources for the mining of bauxite when we already have a surplus of aluminium is evident. The mining activity is not dictated by the needs of the people but by the demands of industrialised countries which are closing down their own aluminium plants and are encouraging imports from countries like India. Japan has reduced its aluminium smelting capacity from 12 lakh tonnes to 1.04 lakh tonnes and is importing 90 per cent of its aluminium requirements. Several Japanese companies have expressed a desire to set up joint ventures in India's export processing zones to manufacture aluminium products with buy-back arrangements. The survival of the tribals of Gandhamardan is thus threatened because the wealthy countries want to preserve their environment and their luxurious lifestyle.
The export imperative that has been guiding the mining industry in India is no less destructive to the people living in the iron ore rich Western Ghats. The export-oriented Kudremukh iron ore mines produce 7 million tonnes of concentrated iron ore from the magnetite deposits of the extremely high rainfall zone of the Tungabhadra catchment. Nearly 21 million tonnes of tailing washed annually into the reservoir of the Tungabhadra project drastically reduces its water storage capacity and total life.
Open cast mining in the iron ore belt of North Goa, between Honda and Usgao, has disrupted the hydrological balance of Goa's hills. Professor Marathe of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, has shown that the annual loss of groundwater due to mining in the belt amounts to 0.28 metres.
Whether it is iron ore in Goa or Karnataka, bauxite in the hills of Madhya Pradesh or Orissa, coal in the nation's energy capital Singrauli, limestone in the Doon Valley or magnetite in Kumaon, open cast mining on catchment slopes has drastically reduced the water resources of the country. Mining increases surface run-off and decreases infiltration. The increased run-off combined with the choking of water courses with overburdens and fines are causing floods and droughts in regions-which had stable and perennial supplies of water. In the context of the unprecedented water scarcity facing the country, the role of mining in the hydrological destabilisation of mountain watersheds can no longer be ignored. The movements of local people against ecologically destructive mining are movements for water security and survival.
The Conflict Over Limestone Quarrying in the Doon Valley
The doon valley is a distinct ecobiome in the district of dehradun, situated in the himalayan foothills of the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Recently, it has become the focus of a serious conflict over the mode of utilisation of the rich limestone deposits located in the Mussoorie Hills which form the northern boundary of the Valley. For one interest group (including the operators of the limestone quarries and the scientific and technical agencies of the state government in charge of geology and mining), the most productive use of the limestone deposits in the Valley lies in their extraction for commercial and industrial use. For the other and much larger interest group (consisting of the local communities, both rural and urban), the most productive use of the same limestone deposits lies in their in situ function in conserving the large volumes of rain water that falls in the Mussoorie Hills during the monsoon every year. The economic activities as well as the survival of the local communities depend almost exclusively on this vital water resource. It is clear that these two functions of the limestone deposits are antagonistic and mutually exclusive; utilisation based on one actually negates the other.
During the last three decades the limestone industry in the Doon Valley, consisting of both quarrying of limestone and its processing, received a lot of encouragement, which led to its accelerated growth. For the people residing in the Valley, this growth has threatened the material basis of survival through the destructive impact of the limestone industry on the hydrological balance of the Valley' Damage to vital resources such as water, through the destruction of the essential ecological processes controlling the hydrological balance of the Valley, has been perceived by the people as a violation of their political and economic right to a decent though often minimal share of the vital resources that are needed for their biological and economic sustenance.
This issue of violation, through ecological destruction, of the people's rights, has been presented before the Supreme Court of India in an attempt to seek justice which is apt to be denied in the economic world when it is dominated by profit motives and market forces. This initiative to seek justice, which is rather exemplary, came from the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Centre in Dehradun, and was supported by interventions from citizens' pressure groups, such as the Save Mussoorie Society and the Friends of the Doon. The petition was also supported by those official agencies whose concern coincided with that of the citizens. These agencies included the Department of Environment" of the Government of India and the City Board of Mussoorie. The litigation is in the course of decision in accordance with the due process of law of the Supreme Court of India. The historical and ecological background of the conflicts over natural resources in the Doon Valley will be analysed here.
Fragile Ecosystems of the Doon Valley
The disruption of essential ecological processes, caused by the exploitation of natural resources by violating the ecological principles, is registered very quickly in the sensitive and unstable ecosystems comprising the local ecobiome. In such regions, conflicts over natural resources are apt to become acute within a short time. The Himalayas, which are said to comprise the youngest mountain system of the world, form one such fragile super ecobiome, whose fragility is due in some degree to their inherent geological instability and furthermore to the violence of the monsoon rains that they arrest and moderate.
As shown in Figure 10.1, the Doon Valley is bounded on the north-east by the lesser Himalayan Ranges, and on the eastern half of its south-west by the Shivalik Ranges. The two most important rivers of North India, the Ganga and the Yamuna, demarcate its south-eastern and north-western boundaries, respectively. The 'fragility' of the Doon Valley is further accentuated by the presence of a major boundary fault passing through the northern parts of the Valley and by the unusually heavy rainfall of about 2,000 mm per year. The average width of the Valley is about 20 km, and the length is nearly 70 km. The Doon Valley ecobiome comprises two distinct sub-catchments, one formed by the drainage basin discharging into the Ganga a little south of Rishikesh, and the other formed by the drainage- basin discharging into the Yamuna near Rampur Mahdi (just outside Dehradun district). Thus the Doon Valley forms a sub-catchment for the Ganga Yamuna rivers system which carries the vital water resources for the northern part of the Indian subcontinent.
The Lesser Himalayan Ranges, which form the northern boundary of the Doon Valley, are part of the Great Himalayan Range. The Shivalik Ranges, which form the southern boundary of the Valley, are alluvial formations that are younger than the Himalayas, as they were formed by the debris which was swept down from the mountains. The Shivalik Ranges present a stiff face to the plains, while a long and gentle slope meets the foot of the Himalayas to form a shallow longitudinal valley. These valleys or longitudinal depressions formed between the Shivaliks and the Himalayas are generally called 'Duns'. They are not continuous but are cut through by streams that drain the adjacent mountains. In some places the Duns disappear with the merging of the Shivaliks and the Lesser Himalayas. The lower parts of these Duns are generally covered by a deposit of boulders, so that the floor of the Valley is considerably higher than the level of the plains beyond the Shivaliks.
Owing to this elevation of the Duns and the short distance over which the drainage from them meets the water courses in the plains, the landscape is marked by deep gorges and gullies, which cut through the unconsolidated strata that form the floors of these valleys. For the same reason, tapping of underground water through wells has not been as feasible in the Valley as in the plains.
The Shivaliks belong to a tertiary belt consisting of conglomerates interbedded with clays and sandstones. The bands of clay give cohesion to the soil and improve its physical qualities. This belt meets the older, pre-tertiary Himalayan belt at the main boundary fault, which separates the rocks of the pre-tertiary age from those of the tertiary age and is a major tectonic feature of the area. Tectonic movements that are continuing at the rate of about 2 cm per year, have moved the older rocks of the Mussoorie area to cover the younger belt of the Doon Valley. The rocks in this dislocation zone are thus fractured, crushed and weakened. In the Mussoorie area this boundary fault coincides with the Krol formation of limestone rock which is folded into a syncline called the Mussoorie syncline. The town of Mussoorie is located in this synclinic formation.
On the basis of its rock and soil structure the Valley can be divided into three belts or ranges, namely, the Lesser Himalayan belt, the Doon Valley proper, and the Shivalik belt. The Lesser Himalayan belt consists of high grade limestone and shales at the base, passing gradually to dolomite towards the top, which is covered by a thin layer of soil. The Doon Valley proper is covered by unstratified and mixed pebbles and boulders with very little matrix. The Doon gravels of the Pleistocene age are covered by a thin layer of soil except in the river beds. These gravels are highly pervious, forming a poor water reservoir. The boulder bed of the drainage channels provides the underground course for most streams originating in the Himalayas, many of which disappear deep into the boulder bed for long stretches, only to reappear near the edges of the plateau where they encounter the impermeable clay formations. The natural abundance of water in the Valley, particularly in its eastern part, is reported in the Settlement Report of Bakery
At present the Eastern Doon is a vast natural reservoir or feeder of the Ganges. The forests are intercepted with running streams rising from innumerable springs in every direction, and the ground is literally oozing with water. The volume of water poured into the Ganges by the Suswa and Song is immense.
A diagrammatic section of the Doon Valley showing its three distinct geological belts is presented in Figure 10.2. These belts are related to the hydrological characteristics of the Valley, which received the highest rainfall in Northern India, apart from Cherapunji. The rainfall intensity is highest in the northern parts of the Valley, the annual average in Dehradun, Rajpur (about 8 km farther north), and Mussoorie, being 185, 266 and 197 cm, respectively. This abundant precipitation on the southern slopes of the Mussoorie Hills infiltrates the fractured limestone belt which has a high degree of porosity and therefore high storage capacity. This capacity of fissured limestone gives rise to perennial springs and streams, such as those of Bhitarli, Kiarkuli, Arnigad and Baldi. The acquirers in this belt conserve large quantities of water for dry seasons, and reduce that part of the precipitation that is lost as seasonal run-off during the monsoons. The spring fed streams disappear underground when they meet the Doon gravels, and reappear as rivers such as the Suswa and Asan in the lower clay formations of the Valley.
The sources of the water resources of the Doon Valley are thus, in the final analysis, linked with the surface and sub-soil structure of the Lesser Himalayas. The vegetation supported by the thin top soil helps in the interception of the torrential rainfall by both the canopy and the leaf litter. This helps to reduce run-off and increase infiltration of water to the suh-surface, while the high porosity of the fracture d limestone heft permits the storage of water for year around discharge.
.Origin of the Lime Rush
Direct and major human interference in the limestone deposits began in 1900, when the railway line was brought to Dehradun and the forest department started selling quarrying rights to the limestone deposits at a royalty of Rs. 5 per 100 cubic feet (ca 2,832 dm3). An attempt by the government to assume full control of all limestone deposits was challenged in the court by the local landlords. They argued that the boulders on the surface of the earth and river beds were not mines, and their objections were upheld. As a result, surface boulders were declared as not to be quarried, until the settlement of 1904 which declared all quarries as government property.
Extraction of Limestone and Marble in Delhradun
In 1911, four quarries were being worked in the Doon Valley, and by 1982 there were nearly 100 quarry leaseholders holding about 1,250 hectares of leased area. Out of these, nearly SO per cent are in operation. The limestone of the Doon `/alley, being of high purity, has a ready market in the steel, chemicals, sugar, textile, and other industries. The amount of extraction of limestone and marble in the vicinity of Dehradun for the period 1977-82 is given in Table 10.1.
The Ecological Crisis Generated by Quarrying
Quarrying in the doon valley has disturbed the ecosystem dras tically. the limestone belt in the Mussoorie Hills lies in a tectonically active zone, and a geological thrust was created by the extension of the older pre-tertiary rocks of the Mussoorie Hills over the younger tertiary rocks of the Doon Valley. The thrust is disturbed by a series of of&hoot faults, rendering the region geologically unstable.
The extraction of minerals by open cast mining first disturbs the land-soil-vegetation system by the removal of the vegetation, the top soil, and the overburden, for surface quarrying. This disturbance would be associated with surface mining anywhere. It is, however, accentuated locally by the precipitous slopes and high rainfall, which add to the land's instability caused by mining.
The actual process of extraction of limestone thereafter creates the second ecological impact on land resources, which is unique to the fragile and sensitive ecosystems that characterize the Doon Valley. The use of explosives to remove the rocks further weakens the already weak rock structure. Explosives also activate faults in the dislocation zone of the main boundary thrust, where the quarries in the Mussoorie area are located. The result is induced slope failure and landslides, which are increasing in the region since the mining operations began.
Effects of steep gradients and high rainfall
The steep gradient of the hills and the high rainfall in the Valley contribute further to this instability, as has already been indicated. Landslides raise the beds of streams and rivers, by piling up debris in these drainage channels. The combination of heavy monsoons, bare slopes, and silted river beds, leads to flood in a valley, that was endowed by nature with excellent drainage. Floods, in turn, further destroy land resources downstream, because silted river beds lead to unpredictable changes in the course of rivers, which begin to cut their banks. The upper parts of the streams are thus intricately linked with the lower parts, forming a single ecological continuum in which manipulation of land resources upstream leads to the destruction of land resources downstream. These induced instabilities in land resources have been so large in magnitude that they are conspicuously visible.
A less visible process of destruction has been associated with the water resources of the Doon Valley, which is served entirely by rain fed streams originating in the Mussoorie Hills. The limestone deposits, besides being a reservoir of water, overlap the catchment of these streams. The ecological crisis generated by limestone quarrying is reflected by the fact that, in a valley with abundant rainfall, areas affected by mining no longer have enough water available for the sustenance of crops or humans. Furthermore, all streams and rivers serving the Valley are affected by the run-off of the Mussoorie Hills, as all of them are fed by recharging of subsurface storage systems in this catchment area. The Suswa and Asan rivers, which emerge in the lowest drainage line of the Valley, also provide sub-surface and delayed drainage of the Mussoorie Hills. Tampering with the limestone belt implies direct destruction of the recharge basin of all water sources in the Valley
Further impacts of quarrying
The impact of quarrying is also reflected in the flow characteristics of the springs and streams in the Doon Valley. As in the last few years, quarrying has led to the most drastic changes in the surface characteristics of the catchments-both in terms of extent and intensity-decline in the lean period base flow in the streams can be linked with it. The lean period flow in the Rajpur and Bijapur Canal systems, which tap the water from the Rispana and Tons rivers, respectively is shown in Figure 10.3.
Moreover, the destruction of the internal hydrological system is reflected in the fact that the spring sources of all villages surveyed in the local catchments have registered an average decrease of nearly 50 per cent in their lean period discharges over the last two decades. Such disturbance of the hydrological cycle resulting from human intervention in the limestone belt in the processes of quarrying seems unavoidable and an expensive impact of quarrying.
This disturbance has been further accentuated by the impact of the disposal of overburdens and 'finest' on the hill slopes, and by the landslides induced by mining related activities in this sensitive region. The resulting debris covers large areas of the hill slopes Ludlow the limestone belt. As the debris deposited has little water infiltration capacity, there is a drastic decline in the effective catchment area in the Mussoorie Hills which in turn leads to surface run-off.
Thus the situation of the limestone belt is such that the real impact of quarrying on the hydrological characteristics of the hill surface will, through the deposition of debris, be several times as extensive as the total area of the quarries. The area of land under debris may even be several orders of magnitude greater than the leasehold area of quarrying. Moreover during heavy rainfall, which is common in the Doon Valley, debris is carried by the run-off to the river beds. This in turn raises the river beds, changes the course of rivers, leads to soil erosion in the adjoining agricultural land and forests, and blocks the vital canal systems of the Valley. The ecological impact of quarrying, in terms of destabilized land and water resources, is clearly indicated by the transformation of the boulder beds of the Doon Valley rivers into debris covered beds following the introduction of quarrying.
More than a century ago, Williams" reported that there was no 'kunkar' ('kunkur', kunkar', 'coucher', etc., coarse limestone sheets or nodules) or 'bajri' (limestone debris) available in the Valley. According to him, 'the geological formation of the Valley itself, a vast shingle-bed interspersed with (tracts of) sand, having a partial covering of loam, forbids the existence of kunkar, the substitute for which is stone metalling, procured by breaking up the boulders found in the mountain torrents.
Devastating silting and flooding
This description remained applicable to the Doon Valley until recently, when the impact of three decades of quarrying became painfully evident through the deposition of materials carried down by the mountain torrents during each monsoon. As a result. the boulder strewn beds of the rivers were transformed into ever rising depositories of debris Rispana river bed, boulders disappeared about ten years ago, while in the Tons river bed a major inflow of debris about 6 feet (nearly 2 metres) in height was recorded after the 1982 monsoon. The Baldi river's bed has been rising constantly, threatening roads and bridges in the area of Sahastradhara, which lies about 1 km upstream of its confluence with the Song river. Buildings near the only bridge over the Baldi river have already been washed away, and the cumulative piling up of 'bajri' will, in the near future, pose a serious threat of floods in large parts of the Valley.
Such floods have already begun to affect villages on the banks of the Asan, the Baldi, and the Song rivers. Distance does not save these remote villages from the destructive impact of quarrying, as they are part of the overall ecobiome, being linked to one another by a common drainage channel, and to that extent belonging to a natural ecological unit. The upper parts of the streams have an impact on the lower parts, and quarrying upstream affects activities further downstream, sometimes quite drastically.
Besides damaging land and property along the river beds, the debris loaded flow in rivers has started choking canal works, thus heavily increasing their maintenance costs and the vulnerability of the water distribution system. Costs for removal of the debris in the canals, which were insignificant until the last decade, have risen to Rs. 5 lakhs in the last monsoon. The Irrigation Department, which looks after the Doon Canals, has to employ a large labour force to work around the clock throughout the monsoons, so that the canal head is not blocked by silt and other debris. The maintenance team is involved in such activities as not allowing the rivers to change their course in order to ensure that the water reaches the canal head, clearing out debris from the canal head and the canals.
At times the torrent is so :powerful and the load of silt is so heavy that it is physically impossible to remove the silt quickly. In mid August 1983, Dehradun city went without water for several days because the Rajpur Canal was entirely silted up. It is expected that within a period of ten years the entire canal works will be threatened by rising torrents and the concomitant destruction of flood protection works. Unfortunately, the cost associated with the destruction of this vital water conservation and distribution system has so far not been recognised as a negative externality of quarrying, because the processes by which quarrying threatens water resources have not been recognised. Through water, the impact of quarrying is carried to the human settlements, which depend on these water resources for survival.
The destruction of the processes of.renewability of water resources has. in the past, led to the collapse of human societies and civilisations. For instance, There is a sfrong link between the fall of Rome and the devastation of the Mediterranean forests and grasslands by the suppliers of Rome's sustenance. There is every indication that unless the processes of destruction of water re
sources are reversed, large parts of India, which are proud of their ancient civilizations will face serious water problems well before the turn of this century, and Chaturvedi" believes that by the beginning of the twenty-first century water demand might exceed the ultimate usable resources in different states of India.
These assessments have been borne out by the water famine faced by Tamil Nadu, particularly Madras city, while Uttar Pradesh, for which the water crisis was projected start in the eighties, is already facing severe and absolute water shortages which cannot he overcome by engineering solutions. In such a situation the creation of drought in water rich regions, like the Doon Valley can only aggravate the problem.
In tropical regions, water resources are widely maintained through a very delicate balance with the local ecosystems, such that even small disturbances can completely destabilise water supplies because of the climate, the heavy seasonal raiman and the high mountain ranges which are the catchments of many of the major rivers. Hydrological destabilisation through deforestation or other ineffective land management in these catchments often increases instant run-off leading to floods in the monsoons and drought in the lean season. This degree of destruction of water resources would not, however. be caused by a similar land use abuse in ecobiomes where the rainfall distribution and the slopes of c catchment areas are not 50 extreme. Yet, the rapid destruction of water resources, which is especially problematical in tropical countries, inreatens the healthy biological survival of human communities and forecloses opportunities for their economic development.
The local situation
The decrease in water supply, coupled with ever increasing demands from industry and a rapidly growing urban population, has created scarcity of the most viral resource for human survival and development. This scarcity in turn leads to social costs by diverting human resources from productive work to the drudgery of water collection or attempts to ensure supplies.
Nearly 70 per cent of the Doon Valley population is dependent on public water supply. Water shortages mean longer queues, longer waiting hours, and less water collection for those families. On the average, those dependent on the public supply spend 2 hours a day on water collection, while in certain localities the waiting time is nearly 4 hours. Besides this wastage of human work potential, water scarcity is becoming a source of serious social conflicts among those who are the victims of such water resource destruction.47
The impact of this crisis in water resources is unequally divided between different groups of human society, such that 70 per cent of the population which cannot afford private water connections is increasingly deprived of water. Of the 30 per cent which has a piped supply in their homes, about 5 per cent can overcome natural shortages by capital-intensive technological solutions to which they alone have access. Underground storage wells and pumps can provide twenty-four hours daily supply of running water in homes which can afford an initial capital investment of Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000. The ecological crisis clearly affects the poor more drastically than the rich, despite the prevalent myth that concern for a 'stable ecology' is a luxury which only the latter can afford!
In the villages in the hills, the impact of destruction of water resources is even more drastic than in the towns. The drying up of springs or a decrease in spring discharge means the destruction of the only alternative available to most villagers. While nature treats all humans equally, development plans do not. Only 20 per cent of the total population of India is supplied safe drinking water, and scarcely 50 per cent of the total rural population is provided this vital resource. Most water development is for urban areas. Such villages as those in the Doon Valley, which were provided safe drinking water by nature in the form of springs, will join the 1.52 lakh 'no-source' villages once their springs run dry. For the government this will mean an insignificant increase in the statistics, but for the women in those villages it will mean longer distances over tough terrain and longer hours to collect an essential resource for their families. For the families of these women, especially the children, it will mean increasing disease and morbidity.
While the water resources which are provided by the Mussoorie Hills have been treated as valueless in the controversy over limestone quarrying; they have an undeniable value for the well-being and very survival of the people of the Valley. The destruction of an economic value which degrades the quality of life and threatens the survival of the citizens. The natural endowment of these mountain ranges is an essential part of the resource base for the survival and economic activity of the people in the region.
The economic value of nature has been completely ignored by conventional economics and conventional models of progress and prosperity. The deepening ecological crisis is, however, making it imperative that nature's values and functions be taken into account through proper ecological audits. Such ecological audits of economic activities should assign a value to natural functions on the basis of the cost of technological alternatives to deliver the same set of goods and services. Thus the value of water resource potential of the Mussoorie Hills is the cost of the technical installations that would provide the people with the same quantity and quality of water. Quite obviously, the damage involved is equivalent to the destruction of a gigantic waterworks which pumps more than 500 cusecs (500 x 28.32dm3 per second) of water from the Yamuna river and distributes it to all the villages that are currently served by nature. The natural water installation that is being destroyed will in theory cost the public many thousands of millions of rupees to replace.
Hidden Externalities of Limestone Quarrying
Limestone quarrying in the doon valley has come into direct conflict with other important economic activities on which the majority of the residents of the Valley depend for their livelihood. Traditionally, four main sectors of economic activity have flourished in the Doon Valley. The unique material endowment of the region has given it a unique comparative advantage for agri-horticulture, tourism, education such as schools and research institutions, and knowledge-intensive manufacturing based on a favourable climate and a clean environment. These diverse economic activities are ecologically consistent with one another' as they are all based on the stability of land and water resources. Agriculture and horticulture are directly dependent on them as central inputs, while tourism and knowledge based industry are supported by the environmental capital of a stable ecobiome. However, limestone quarrying and the processing units which have been established to support it, have destroyed the resource base on which other activities survive and prosper. The 'growth' recorded by the limestone industry has, thus, to be seen against the background of the decay of other economic activities and not independently of it.
Undermining of Food Production
Agricuelture is the oldest economic activity of the doon valley, and the villagers tapped the abundant and perennial streams to irrigate their fields. The plateau was ably served by the ancient Rajpur Canal, at the head of the Rispana torrent coming from the adjacent foothill. This tapping of water before its disappearance into the boulder bed was a successful indigenous technology of water management. Due to the geological character of the Doon Valley, the profitable and successful construction of wells has been impossible except in villages near Rishikesh or near the sources of the Suswa and Asan rivers. This has made canal irrigation vital for agriculture. as well irrigation is next to impossible.
The British recognized central role of canals in the agricultural economy of the Doon Valley, and started expanding the canal network to serve the newly colonised areas of the Valley after their takeover. In 1837 Captain Cautley was deputed to inaugurate a canal from the Tons river below the village of Bijapur, to irrigate the triangular tract between the Tons, the Asan and the Bindal, and in October 1839 the Bijapur Canal was completed. In 1841, work on the restoration of the old Rajpur Canal was undertaken, and in the same year the Katapathar Canal, fed by waters of the Yamuna, started functioning in the most westerly Dun. The Kalanga Canal, drawn from the Song river above Rajpur, and the Jakhan Canal, drawn from a stream of the same name in the eastern Dun, were completed a few years later. The 9th Settlement Report acknowledged that:
These canals, insignificant though they appear at first, are the greatest blessing to the district. In fact the people depend almost entirely on them for water for drinking and domestic purposes, and for the cultivation of all the more valuable crops
This traditional agriculture provided the economic basis for a decent quality of life in the Valley. The stability of-the economic base was, in turn, linked with the stability of the water resources. According to the description in the local Gazetteer, Dehradun enjoyed '... an unusually copious rainfall, and owing to the physical configuration it is seldom that the monsoon is an entire disappointment. In addition to this climatic advantage, hitherto unknown, considerable tracts of the Doon are ensured against crop failure by the canals.
Earlier, in the 8th Settlement Report, it had been pithily recorded that:
There have been no famine or droughts to ruin the people and kill off their cattle.... The Doon is what is commonly called a backward district, but so far as the comfort and well-being of all classes is concerned, it is a matter for regret, rather than otherwise, that more districts are not in the same state of back wardness.
The impact of quarrying on agriculture is most appropriately assessed within the ecological units formed by the catchments of different streams draining the Mussoorie Hills, and the command areas of canals fed by them. The Katapathar command area provides an example of an agricultural economy within the Valley which is not affected by quarrying, as this canal draws its water from the Yamuna.
As already discussed, the central ecological impact of quarrying is the destruction of land and water resources, both of which are vital inputs for food production. Also, as explained earlier, abundant rainfall combined with stable catchments provided by the Mussoorie Hills had earlier formed the most important base for a stable agricultural economy in the Valley.
The destabilisation of the resource base has destabilised food production. In most of the villages that lie below quarries, the irrigation channels have been destroyed by the flow of silt and other debris from mines or from mining roads. Village Bhitarli in the Tons catchment was self-sufficient in foodgrains and had surplus food and milk production before the quarrying operations destroyed the food and fodder base of hte village. But the submersion of the irrigation channels led to a drastic reduction in food production, and the loss of grazing land has decreased the cattle population of eight households (randomly surveyed) from 194 to 37.
The entire area below the limestone belt can no longer be used for grazing, and large areas have practically no vegetation as they are covered by debris from the mines. The few pockets of shrubs and forest that remain are of no use for cattle, because of the perpetual danger of boulders rolling down the slopes as a result of blasting. An important economic activity based on animal husbandry is therefore being eroded, and the decline in cattle population in areas affected by mining is as much as 40 per cent. The decline in livestock population affects the production of milk, the production of energy for farm operations, and the production of animal dung that provides soil fertility for sustainable agriculture-the last function being the most important one in hill agriculture. The overall result is a collapse of the food production system, which is quantified in Tables 10.2 and 10.3.
As a consequence of these problems, villagers living near the quarries are becoming increasingly dependent on non-agricultural incomes. The quarries provide employment to many of these villagers who had been rendered unemployed indirectly by the
Table 10.2 Comparative Changes in Agropastoral Economy of
Areas Affected and Not Affected Quarrying
|Indicator||Affected Areas||Unaffected Areas|
|Foodgrain production at present||1,995 Otls.||N.A.*||9,193 Otls|
|Foodgrain production twenty years ago||2,763 Otls||N.A.||5,875 Qtls|
|Livestock population at present||1,060||423||748|
|Livestock population twenty years ago||1.626||919||655|
1 Qtl = Quintal = 100 kg = 220.5 Ibs.
N.A. = not applicable.
The above data were collected for 191 households of 18 villages in the Tons catchment area and for 250 households of 19 villages in the Kalapathar command area. quarrying operations. Those who cannot withstand the hard labour in the quarries. have, reportedly, turned to brewing illicit liquor and smuggling firewood as a means of survival. Both items have a ready market in the nearby human settlements.
Quarrying affects agricultural activity not only in the villages in the vicinity of the quarries but also in the villages in the other parts of the Valley served by the canal network. As indicated earlier, destruction of the hydrological stability of the region means that there is less water than was previously available for irrigation when it is most needed. The increasing difficulty in the distribution of water interferes with the timely availability of irrigation water, and this leads to increased crop failure. The growing of Basmati rice, famous for its flavour, is on the decline in the Valley, thus reflecting the failure of the Valley to utilise its relative advantages of climate and water resources. In an early Settlement Report it was stated that 'the canals are, without doubt, the making of the Doon. The destruction of the irrigation potential through the canal system may soon prove to be the unmaking of the Doon. The lime rush which has been profitable for the quarry operators could be the only factor behind the ecological, and hence economical, collapse of the Valley.
Table 10.3 Decline of Agriculture in Baldi Valley
|Major Crops||Productivity in Qtis/Acre|
|30 Years||20 Years||10 Years||Now|
Official Response to the Signs of Disaster
The heavy negative externalities of limestone quarrying in the doon valley have long aroused popular protests. This contradiction came to a climax when a large number of leases were due for renewal at the end of 1982. In 1981 the Department of Industries of Uttar Pradesh had appointed a committee to decide the policy for renewal of the leases. According to the recommendations of this committee, quarrying was to be discontinued in the Sahastradhara area because of its impact on the Baldi Nadi (river) and the consequent ill-effects on tourism. In the Arnigad Valley, quarrying was to be selectively continued while avoiding violation of mining rules or leased rights. It was further recommended that all quarrying on the main highway linking Dehradun and Mussoorie was to be discontinued. In the Bhitarli Valley, leases were to be renewed on merit'.
Continuation of quarrying was recommended in the Nun Valley. In Banog, block quarrying was recommended on the condition that the Kempty Falls and the water pumping station for the township of Mussoorie was not damaged. In the Song Valley, total ban was recommended because of the practice of dip slope mining, as the stability of the entire mountain was in danger. On these grounds, nine out of eighteen leases that were due for renewal were recommended to be allowed to continue. Others, however, were not recommended to be allowed to continue apparently on the basis of ecological considerations as well as for safety reasons.
Contrary to the recommendation of selective renewal, the Government of Uttar Pradesh decided to impose a blanket ban on the renewal of these quarrying leases. The decision was, however, challenged in the High Court by the quarry operators, who obtained 'stay' orders allowing them to continue quarrying even in those quarries which had been recommended for closure. The stay order led to confusion among the local monitoring agencies for the quarries. The quarry operators reportedly interpreted any control and monitoring by the official agencies as interference in their activity which had been approved of by the Court. The result was severe and reckless quarrying, as the operators tried to maximise their production in a period of uncertainty about future possibilities.
In the perspective of this lack of control by official agencies' public interest litigation at the Supreme Court of India was the only alternative available for the protection of the citizens' rights to vital resources, as well as for the assertion of social control on activities related to the utilisation of common natural resources owned by the community or government for public use.
The People's Response
The resistance to the extraction of limestone from this vulnerable ecosystem was in three phases. In the first phase, the local village organisations politically resisted the mining activities. The resistance was quickly interpreted as a block to national progress, and, the organisations of villagers were subverted by converting them into cooperatives and providing them with small leases. Without the support of science or the state,.the villagers lost their campaign.
The second phase was characterized as a conflict between the state and the lessees. The Uttar Pradesh government tried to withdraw a lease in 1977 on the grounds that it would affect the 'natural beauty and ecology' of the region. The Court called on technical experts to inform its decisions. The technical experts were partisan scientists, who perceived minerals as isolated from soil and water and vegetation and who perceived the economic value of minerals only in extraction and mining. The experts informed the Court that quarrying in the lease areas 'does not necessarily affect the environmental and ecological balance in regard to water, soil and other related factors'. Without counter arguments from ecology as public interest science, even the state could not control mining in the Doon Valley.
In the third phase, citizens" groups in Dehradun and Mussoorie fought a similar case in the Supreme Court, this time informed by public interest science. The balance shifted, and the same expert who in 1977 had stated that quarrying was ecologically safe now said of the same quarry that 'the lease area is situated right in the immediate catchment area of a nullah and is thus subjected to conspicuous denudation by flow of water. Rectification of the situation calls for a permanent closure of this mine'. The emergence of public interest science supporting public interest litigation in the Doon Valley created a new countervailing force favouring public interest. The ecological knowledge was generated with people's participation in an ecosystems study of the Doon Valley undertaken by the authors for the Department of Environment. The study was completed in May 1983 and in June 1983 it was used to file a public interest litigation against limestone quarrying. The study showed that in the partisan, reduction) viewpoint of an economy based on the exchange value of resources, these resources are seen as isolated from one another. In this fragmented perspective, the most efficient use of limestone is its extraction for meeting the commercial/industrial demands. From the ecological viewpoint, limestone in its fractured form provides the best and the largest aquifer that can sustain the supply of water resources to the Valley. The most efficient and economic use of the mineral in this perspective which views limestone in its relationship with other resources, is its conservation for the sustained supply of water on which all economic activities in the Valley depend. Scientific' mining and 'scientific' geology in the reductionist framework is based on partial and incomplete knowledge of the diverse properties and functions of mineral resources. It is based only on specific and particular properties which provide maximum exchange value to the mineral. But minerals have properties and functions beyond those that are commercially exploitable, some of which are only realisable in situ. Mineral extraction in the reductionist framework is blind to the other functions, treats them as non-existent, and thus destroys them by maximising benefits from the commercial exploitation of individual resources.
The Court acted as a public interest science laboratory where scientific ideas were tested, verified and developed into a countervailing force challenging the power of partisan expertise. Public interest litigation backed by public interest science was successful in controlling mining.
On 12 March 1985 a Supreme Court bench consisting of Justice P.N. Bhagwati, Justice A.N. Sen and Justice R. Misra, who had been hearing the public interest litigation against limestone quarrying in the Doon Valley, passed an order closing permanently or temporarily, fifty-three limestone quarries out of sixty within the geographical limits of the Doon Valley or the Dehradun Tehsil. The honourable bench, introduced the order in the follow ing words:
This is the first case of its kind in the country involving issues related to environment and ecological balance and the questions arising for considerations are of grave moment and of significance not only to the people residing in the Mussoorie hill range forming part of the Himalayas but also in the implications to the welfare of the generality of the people living in the country. It brings into sharp focus the conflict between development and conservation and serves to emphasise the need for reconciling the two in the larger interest of the country.
The bench justified the closure of mining operations on the grounds that 'it is a price that has to be paid for protecting and safeguarding the right of the people to live in a healthy environment with minimum disturbance of ecological balance and without avoidable hazards to them and to their cattle, homes and agricultural land and undue affection of air, water and environment'. With this order the Supreme Court of India has set a precedence in accepting a stable and healthy environment as a human right and has intervened on behalf of citizens for just and sustainable development.
One of the mines that was allowed to continue operations by the interim order of the Supreme Court was the Nahi-Barkot mine operated by C.G. Gujral. The lease of the mine had expired in 1982, and for four years, the quarry had been operated on the basis of an interim injunction from the local court in Dehradun. activists launched a non-violent resistance against the ecological havoc being caused by the mine. The ecological impact of limestone quarrying in the Nahi-Kala region is more acute since the area had rich resources of forests and water and since the mine is located at the origin of water resources and on a steep slope on the hill top. In a report to the Supreme Court of India the local divisional forest officer wrote that the vegetation is undergoing serious damage by the mining activity. The trees on the nala banks have been badly damaged. At some places the trees are four to five feet under debris. The land instability generated by quarrying, road construction and the related landslips also obstruct and deplete the natural flow of water in the streams, seriously affecting the local irrigation system.
The waterfall at the source of Sinsyaru is now dry. The increase in the level of the beds of Sinsyaru Khala, Bidhalna and Jakhan rivers has led to enhanced cutting and erosion of the banks, destroying some of the best farm lands. This report also mentions that 'the nala is continuously widening, causing great damage to the agricultural fields of the village Barkot. According to a study conducted by Kalpavriksha, as part of a UNU study, the quarry is also a serious threat to the lives of villagers and their cattle. Irresponsible blasting at the quarry site has reportedly killed a number of cattle while grazing. As a result, five of the seven families living near the quarry site have been forced to abandon their lands and houses and have moved away. Kalam Singh who heads one of the two families who have decided to stay on, had to face the wrath of the quarry mafia when his young daughter was kidnapped by some labourers working in the quarries.
The record of functioning of the limestone quarry at Nahi-Kala is a record of irregular and unscientific quarrying that has violated several rules. The Uttar Pradesh Directorate of Geology and Mines had reported that the concerned limestone quarry was served a notice by the Directorate of Mine Safety on the grounds of excess vertical height of the steps, quarrying on faces steeper than a 60° slope and the rolling down of the mineral extracted.
On 15 March 1987, the movement celebrated six months of struggle. The struggle has not been easy. For six cold months, the volunteers had to spend nights under a tent near Sinsyaru Khala to make sure that their natural wealth is not turned into profits but is available for their children as a source of sustenance. Local courts have served the peaceful satyagrahis with notices of arrest while C.G. Gujral and his men have made many attempts to attack the people. On 30 November 1986 four truck loads of fifty men armed with sticks attacked the satyagraha camp. Chamandai ran down from the village and told the men that the quarry would be operated only over her dead body. They dragged her for a few hundred feet but finally had to turn back overcome by the power of her peaceful protest.
On the morning of 20 March 1987, four truckloads of goondas armed with revolvers, spears, knives, iron rods and sticks attacked the volunteers in the Sinsyaru Khala camp of the Chipko movement; there was another attack in the evening on the non-violent but determined volunteers. This left a large number of men, women and children wounded.
Itwari Devi and Chamandai who were leading the movement were stoned and Ramesh Kukreti and his colleagues received serious injuries and had to be rushed to the Doon Hospital 20 km away. While the spirit of satyagraha has remained alive in Chipko, the movement has transcended beyond its original association of hugging trees in the Garhwal Himalayas. The Chipko movement in the Doon Valley shows that the movement is not merely an issue of hugging trees, but of embracing the living resources of nature in all its diversity, including the living mountains and living waters. On 25 December. 1986, the 100th day of the struggle, Ghanshyam 'Shailani', the folk poet who gave the movement its name in a song he wrote in 1971, spent the whole day singing new songs about the Chipko against quarrying in the Doon Valley. With his songs, the strength of the Doon Valley Chipko is renewed to fight an extended battle for the protection of nature:
A fight for truth has begun at Sinsyaru Khala
A fight for rights has begun in Mulkot Thano
Sister, it is a fight to protect our mountains and forests
They give us life
Hug the life of the living trees and streams to your hearts
Resist the digging of mountains which kills our forests and our streams
A fight for life has begun at Sinsyuru Khala
In april 1989, the national fisherman's forum organised the kanyakumari march with the avowed aim-'protect waters, protect life'. For people who depend on the ecology of the coastal region for their livelihood, the relation between water use on land and the sustenance of living resources of the sea is clear. Irreparable damage has been caused to the biological productivity^of the sea by the use of inappropriate technologies on land and in the oceans. Dams and barrages across rivers have taken their toll by disturbing the ecosystem and altering the natural flow of water and nutrients. Rivers which once used to carry food for marine life now carry mud and chemicals, leading to the gradual transformation of our waters into aquatic deserts.
The marine and coastal habitats of India are being subjected to severe environmental stress. On the one hand, the coastal areas and seas are treated as a depository of all pollutants from the terrestrial environment: silt and sediments from uplands, residues of fertilisers and pesticides from farm lands, sewage and industrial effluents are all ultimately dumped into this habitat. On the other hand, the 'marine revolution' which has introduced powerful technologies in the fisheries sector has transformed fish from being a renewable resource into a non-renewable resource. Pollution combined with over-exploitation is threatening marine resources as well as the livelihood of the fishing communities.
The national movement of these fishing communities, the National Fisherman's Forum, assumed the status of a major ecological movement related to water resources when the month long campaign along the belt of India converged at Kanyakumari on May Day in 1989, to stress the intimate links of water movements on land and in sea through the slogan 'protect waters, protect life'. Approximately 15,000 people, nearly three-quarters of them women, gathered 'for a celebration of life and at the same time a desperate outcry against the threat to survival of ordinary people and of nature'. The protest was, however, disrupted and the police fired indiscriminately- injuring six people and beating up many more-an indication of the conflict between the survival of fish and fishermen on the one hand, and the forces that control fisheries on the other.
Conflict Over Living Marine Resources
Three-quartexs of the good earth, as we endearingly call our planet, is covered by vast stretches of water, the movement and mysteries of which man has yet to fully fathom. The seas and the oceans have more recently. been rightly called the 'common heritage of mankind' implying man's collective rights and responsibilities for their judicious utilisation and conservation.
Living marine resources comprise a small part of the potential wealth of this heritage. Despite this, what makes their contribution to human beings so significant is the direct bearing they have on the fullness of human life-as a source of livelihood and food.
The need for care and continued sustenance of this resource is, therefore, too apparent to be stressed. By the same reasoning any impending harm to its future warrants close and urgent attention. It is with this sense of priority and urgency that the rising tide of conflicts over living marine resources the world over should be viewed.
An attempt in this direction is presented here. Beginning with a brief historical overview, the focus is on the particular manifestations, causes and consequences of the conflicts over living marine resources in India and a few suggestions that may help to ensure less harm and increased sustenance of this vital resource in the future.
Both the casual visitor to the seashore and the skilled fisherman imagine the sea to be the storehouse of a limitless expanse of living resources, particularly fish. The basis of such impressions are however drastically different: the layman's impression is conditioned by a tinge of idle romanticism and a lot of ignorance; the fisherman's impression is based on years of experience in work combined with the tacit faith that 'mother sea' always provides.
It was perhaps a blend of the two which prompted Hugo Grotius to work on his famous thesis 'Mare Liberum' (1608) where he argued that fishery resources were so abundant that no one would benefit from having exclusive rights over them and there was no possibility of their being over-exploited. The question of conflict over living marine resources would therefore not arise.
For nearly three centuries the concept of 'freedom of the seas' prevailed all over the world. So long as fishing remained primarily a 'livelihood' activity and fish caught and traded for its intrinsic use as a food, no major conflicts arose despite the fact that the oceans 'belonged' to no one. This state of affairs in the world at large continued until the middle of the last century and in India even as late as the middle of this century.
The post-war period saw rapid population growth and rising incomes which in turn spurred off a greater demand for fish. The use of steam and mechanical power increased the mobility of fishing vessels. The spillovers from naval warfare research further perfected techniques such as bottom trawling resulting in a spectacular increase in the productivity of fishing operations. The manufacture of ice decreased the perishability of fish and considerably enhanced its marketability.
All these factors, appearing together around the beginning and middle of this century enhanced the stature and complexity of the fishing,industry. There was more than just harvesting and consumption. The organisation of fish preservation/processing and marketing began to gain prominence and in turn influenced the realm of harvesting. Not only was more fish in demand, but species with different qualities having a variety of end uses unrelated to direct human consumption were required. The impulses for building long distance fishing fleets, active investment in the fisheries of other nations and a stepping up of international trade in fish and fish products were the natural concomitants. A standard 'package' of the above, generally biased towards the nature of factor allocations and effective demand in the developed countries, came to be termed as 'fisheries development proeramme'.
Along with 'fisheries development' was the awareness among both fishermen and laymen that expanding the horizons also brought one closer to the limits. Questions were raised about unrestricted access to the oceans. The inability to sort out the issue often led to openly manifest conflicts over harvesting rights. In the realm of trade priorities and end use patterns the latent conflicts were contained, in a sense masking the true character of the confrontations at sea.
The End of Mare Liberum
It was during the two decades (the fifties and sixties) following the end of world war ii that the challenges to the principle of the 'freedom of the seas' emerged rather sharply. This was particularly so when four developing countries-Peru, Chile, Honduras and El Salvador-unilaterally extended their territorial rights seawards up to the 200 mile limit and began taking punitive action against fishing vessels of other countries that failed to honour these rights.
The progress of unilateral extension of territorial/economic rights by developing nations did not spread rapidly after this initial spurt. Following the debate in the UN General Assembly in 1967, prompted by Dr. Arvid Pardo, and the framing of the UN Law of the Sea Conference saw a renewed interest in the matter. Even before the adoption of the Convention, due to the clear consensus seen in the early sessions, many nations extended their jurisdiction over fisheries beyond the hitherto accepted 12 nautical miles. By the end of 1980 this number increased to ninety-eight, seventy four had taken action after 1975. Of the latter, fifty-seven were developing countries.
This spurt of declarations was also an indicator of the desire on the part of the developing countries to protect their fisheries (and other marine resources) from being exploited by other nations. Since many of the developing coastal states which expanded their economic zones did not possess the technology to harvest all the fish in it, the move may also be construed as one aimed at preserving the resource for their future generations.
The Emergence of 'Fisheries Development'
Quantitative estimates of sustainable resource potential of the oceans are disparate, the basis of calculation and/or extrapolation widely affecting the results.
For the tropical South Asian waters the oft quoted potential yield figure is around 4 million tonnes -66 6 per cent of it (2.64 million tonnes) bordering the coast of Pakistan, Western India and Western Sri Lanka and the remaining 1.32 million tonnes lying off the east coast of Sri Lanka, India and the waters of Bangladesh.
Of this total potential yield, around 70 per cent is accounted for by pelagic species (fish generally inhabiting the surface waters of the ocean) and the rest by demersal species (fish generally inhabiting the bottom layers of the ocean). In terms of the spatial concentration of resources, about 65 per cent lies within the depth range of 50-70 metres along the continental shelf in the inshore waters. The present harvest is almost exclusively from this zone.
Between 1953 and 1983 the actual marine harvest of these four countries has increased threefold from 0.71 million to 2.11 million tonnes thereby increasing the share of harvest of sustainable resource potential from 18 per cent in 1953-54 to 47 per cent in 197-77 and further to 54 per cent in 1982-83.
Given that half the potential resources are yet to be harvested and that venturing into the deeper waters of the ocean is still at its infancy, why is the South Asian region marked by conflicts over living marine resources? What are The historical origins of these conflicts? What are the common manifestations, the deep-rooted causes and the most damaging consequences of these conflicts? Are there any remedial measures that can be taken? We shall attempt to answer these questions, making generalisations where they are applicable to the region as a whole and highlighting specific cases where that is more appropriate.
It needs to be mentioned at this stage that while the ingredients of conflict and its concrete manifestations are visible everywhere in the South Asian region, the consequences are indeed more acute in some areas and less apparent in others. In the southwestern region of India (the States of Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala) and the south-eastern coast of India (Tamil Nadu) bordering Northern Sri Lanka, both the level as well as the socio economic and political ramifications of the conflicts over living marine resources are very intense. On the other hand reports of conflicts are much fewer from the rest of the region.
The fish economies of the south asian countries prior to independence were essentially subsistence sectors. In the realm of harvesting, the transformation of the living marine resources into products with use and exchange value were mediated by the skills of fishermen and the judicious use of technology. The two hallmarks of these technologies were their appropriateness to the acquatic ecosystem and their inherent limits on the harvesting capability. It was a technology appropriate for fishing as a source of meagre livelihood.
The bulk of the catch was exchanged or bartered for basic necessities. The perishability of fish greatly restricted its internal trade flows and the bulk of it was consumed in the immediate coastal hinterland by the rural masses for whom it formed the cheapest source of animal protein. Long distance trade did exist, but with a few exceptions, it was essentially between countries within the region and the fish products were of the low value added type (primarily dried and/or cured) marked essentially to the low income consumers of the region.
The first decade of planned fisheries development (the fifties) and half of the second (until 1965) passed smoothly without facing any storms. In fact, the single most important technological change in fishing introduced in the Indian region-the shift from cotton to nylon fishing nets-contributed to a fairly steady increase in the harvest and is likely to have had considerable income generating effect. However, because the control of the marketing of the fish had never been in the hands of the fishermen in any part of the region, it is likely that the largest share of the enhanced income due to rising productivity was usurped by the 'sharks on the land'.
The rapid changes in craft design and the introduction of techniques such as bottom trawling and purse-seining were phenomena which generated momentum in the late sixties and became intense in the early seventies.
These changes were fostered by factors which were autonomous of the socio-economicand technological developments in the South Asian region. The three most important factors were: rising incomes in the developed countries, particularly the USA and Japan; the oil crisis and the extension of territorial zones by many countries which had an adverse impact on the economics of the distant water fishing fleets of countries like Japan; and the rapid depletion of marine resources in the waters of the developed countries.
These factors combined to lay the foundation of a new era of international development assistance in fisheries combining technical and financial aid. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan were major recipients of such 'packages' of development assistance. India availed of such aid on a smaller scale, largely in the form of the Indo-Norwegian project for fisheries development in Kerala.
Consequently, the fish economies of the region accepted more imported technologies in harvesting, processing and marketing; gave priority to the setting up of large infrastructure facilities like harbours and freezing plants; and emphasised export orientation as a key objective of the fisheries sector relegating earlier priorities to a second place.
Thus the 'initial conditions' prevailing in the fish economies of the South Asian countries-be they with respect to the fishertnen's ecosense; prevailing fishing techniques; processing and preservation methods; established trade links; forms of traditional organisation and resource management or patterns of local fish consumption-were written off as being 'primitive' and/or 'unscientific' in the face of the glistening prospects of the new development current.
By taking steps to 'develop' their fisheries along the western lines (largely with respect to technology, the orientation of trade and the organisation of administration and industry) they were also unknowingly inheriting the conflict potentials inherent in that approach. This fact was hardly recognised in the early phases of development due to the unquestionable respectability of the magical identity:
Development = Modernisation = Westernisation
The charm of this magical 'development' process began to gradually wear out. However, the initial signs of this were not immediately perceived by those who planned and propagated the modernisation programmes. Fishermen who experienced the ill effects merely suffered silently for want of an effective organisation to give vent to their grievances and the lack of cohesion to protest collectively.
As the pressure began to build up, the diverse manifestations of the conflict slowly began to appear in the open, some overtly, others not so overtly.
Manifestations of Conflict
Conflicts over living marine resources tend to be most visibly manifest in the following two realms: (a) conflicts that arise primarily from fishermen's violations of national jurisdictions while in the pursuit of fish, and (b) conflicts that arise between fishermen using two different levels of technology.
National jurisdictions and inter-regional conflict
It is often said that fish tend not to respect the maritime boundaries fixed by nation states, and fishermen in pursuit of fish seem to follow suit.
A long known conflict in the realm of marine fisheries is that between contiguous maritime states. The difficulty in demarcating national boundaries in the territorial seas in the primary cause for this conflict. An equally important factor in the Couth Asian region is the lack of sophisticated navigational devices on fishing vessels which can forewarn fishermen of such trespass. While cases of trespass into another nation's waters may be quite unintentional, they often lead to rather adverse situations sometimes necessitating the use of naval forces.
In the South Asian context, the political conflict between India and Pakistan, the Tamil problem causing tensions between India and Sri Lanka, and the conflicting claims over newly formed islands in the Bay of Bengal between India and Bangladesh have all had adverse effects on fishermen fishing near the maritime boundaries of their nations.
The fishermen of Okha in Gujarat bring reports about the increasing number of occasions when they have unwittingly transgressed into Pakistani waters only to be apprehended by the Pak Navy Patrols resulting in harassment and confiscation of their fish.
Fishermen of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, where the maritime border with Sri Lanka is only 15 to 20 km away from the coastline, are increasingly faced with stern action by the Sri Lankan Navy for trespass. Some fishermen have been killed in these clashes and many have been arrested and taken to Sri Lanka. With the Tamil issue flaring up, there is a widespread feeling that the arrests are more political and less as a measure to safeguard marine resources.
The incidents of 'conflict over marine resources between India and Bangladesh are rather rare. This is partly due to the fact that the maritime traditions of this part of the region-Orissa and the West Bengal (Indian states) and Bangladesh-are far less developed in general, the overwhelming importance of inland and riverine fisheries of these parts has been a deterrent to large-scale development of marine fishing.
Prior to the extension of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to the 200 mile limit by countries of the South Asia region, the waters off their coastline were fished by distant water fleets from Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan.
The Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the region of the Indian Ocean around Sri Lanka were major fishing grounds for the distant water fleets of Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan. The post-oil crisis era saw a significant reduction in their activity. The declaration of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) by Bangladesh (1974), Pakistan (1976), India (1977) and Sri Lanka (1977) further reduced the scope for legal harvesting of fish without licences. In spite qf these factors, the region continues to be a lucrative fishing ground. While many operators have entered into licence agreements, a large number take undue advantage of the lack of legal measures and policing facilities at the disposal of the countries of the region and take the risk of fishing illegally. The major culprits have been Taiwanese trawlers which.fish all over the region and have been apprehended by the coastal guards of all the counties. In Pakistan, for example, in response to the growing menace of 'poaching' the government has recently enacted a law which provides for confiscation of the poaching vessel. a fine of US $720,000 and a five-year jail sentence for the captain.
Technological polarisation and conflicts
In the popular mind, largely conditioned by the news media, the conflict over living marine resources is largely manifest in the form of a clash between fishermen within a country using two different levels of technology. This is indeed the most visible aspect of the conflict which at the moment seems to be the one which engages the concerns of the policy-makers and the energies of the fishermen.
The logic of 'technological polarization' in general, its historical roots and socio-political consequences have been elaborated in Chapter 1. The drive towards modernization was based on the assumption that new technologies as such will help fishermen improve their economic conditions, however, the fact that small fishermen do not have the backing of favourable resource or market conditions was overlooked. This made the technologies introduced largely inaccessible and inappropriate to their long term capabilities and needs. Hence by default the technologies came under the control of a powerful minority group of non fishermen in turn enhancing their economic and political clout arid ossifying the technological duality in the sector. The duality did not create two isolated independent groups in the sector. On the contrary, the resulting groups were 'intimately related to each other by an exploitation linkage rooted in technology'.
The introduction of fishing techniques such as bottom trawling in the countries of South Asia and purse-seining in a few countries of the region were the most obvious departure from the technological continuum which hitherto had evolved over the centuries. While the new techniques were undoubtedly a quantum leap forward when viewed from the perspective of fishing efficiency and productivity, they were retrogressive with respect to their appropriateness to the ecosystem of tropical waters. The hallmarks of temperate waters are the limited number of species, each available in millions; tropical waters on the other hand are marked by thousands of species, highly dispersed and each available in small quantities. The basis of this difference between the temperate and tropical waters is rooted in the temperature differences which have a bearing on the dissolved oxygen content and hence on the primary production rate of the microscopic plants (plankton) on which the fish feed. The density of fish stocks in temperate waters is far greater than in tropical waters. The rejuvenating capacity (ability to recover from man's excessive intervention) of temperate water resources is also far greater. In the tropical waters, on the other hand, harvesting operations even at low productivity levels (output/unit) if undertaken by far too many operators can affect the resource balance substantially.
These techniques, evolved for the single species fishery of the temperate waters by countries with totally different capital-labour ratios, tend to come into conflict with the innate ecological and socio-economic fabric of this region rather quickly. This conflict becomes further heightened when the technology is controlled by those who have invested in fishing merely as a source of quick profits.
Conflicts between fishermen using different levels of technology can be analysed with respect to conflict over space, conflict over product or both. Artisanal fishermen generally concentrate on harvesting pelagic ' species while the mechanised boats hauling bottom trawls fish for the demersal prawns in the same area. The result is that small fishermen lose their nets when they are cut by the propellers of mechanised boats or Bet entangled in the ropes of the bottom trawl nets leading to a conflict over rights to fishing space. Reports of such conflicts are widespread all over the region.
When large mechanised purse-seiners haul in huge shoals of pelagic fish before the schools get a chance to move inshore, they deprive the shoreseine fishermen of their livelihood. Along the south-west coast of India, the uprisings among the fishermen of Goa and the more passive pauperisation of the fishermen of Karnataka can be traced to this conflict over the same product.
Both types of conflicts mentioned here-the first resulting in damage and destruction of fishing gear and the latter to a deprivation of fish-cause immense hardships to the majority of fishermen in the region who depend on fishing as the sole source of livelihood.
Conflict between profits and survival
It is the market mechanism and the 'invisible hand' which drives it that underlies the choice of new fishing technologies and the harvesting patterns which they involve. Conflicts at sea today are essentially conflicts between the few, spurred by the motive of profits, and the many whose objective is survival. The former are largely catering to the ever increasing demand for seafood of the overfed metropolitan consumer in the developed countries and the latter to the basic protein needs of the rural masses of the region.
More specifically, in South Asia bottom trawling which was introduced in a big way in the sixties helps primarily to increase the production of prawns which in turn are exported to Japan and the USA. Prawns are generally found in shallower inshore waters. Using capital-intensive technology to fish prawns for Japanese or Americans comes into direct conflict with harvesting fish inhabiting the same ecosystem which goes to flavour the rice of the rural masses of the region.
It is interesting to note that in the South Asian region, until the end of the fifties, marine fish harvest increased at a rate of 5 per cent per annum in spite of the lack of new harvesting technologies. During this period, between 5,000-6,000 tons of prawns from India were exported to Burma, Thailand and Malaya every year in dry form and accounted for 25 to 30 per cent of the annual export value of around US $11 million (1958-59 average).
Following three decades of planned fisheries development in the region, by 1976-83, the rate of growth of marine fish harvest had dropped to 2 per cent per annum. It was also during this period that the conflicts at sea were most rampant. Interestingly during this period of overall stagnation, the exports of prawns-all destined for the Japanese and American markets in frozen form-increased dramatically. The experience of Kerala is valuable in illustrating the trend of fisheries development and destruction in the region.
This export-oriented approach to fisheries development was first seen in the early sixties. Attention was focused on prawns. From an export turnover of a little under 500 tonnes of frozen prawns by the end of the fifties, by 1961 the figure had reached 1,462 tonnes with an export value of over Rs. 4,000 per tonne compared to the internal fresh fish shore price of Rs. 150 per tonne. In 1962, the Japanese were scouting for prawn supplies as they had lost access lights to Mexican waters.
Table 11.1 Export of Frozen Shrimp/Prawn from India
The effect of this overpowering demand-pull for prawns had its repercussions in Kerala's fish economy as a whole. A sector which was relatively outside the mainstream of the economic and social processes in Kerala society was suddenly transformed into a respectable avenue for investment and involvement. The possibilities of a modernised fishery sector emerged quickly, breaking down traditional barriers to entry into the sector. The export-oriented thrust that began to get ingrained in the sector was blessed by the country's own attempt to boost foreign exchange earnings. The devaluation of the rupee in mid-1966 gave a further boost to the exports of prawns from Kerala. The implications of the changing emphasis of fisheries development policy on the fish economy and in particular the fishermen is known to us in detail from primary survey data.
It can be said that two clearly demarcated sub-sectors had been created in the economy-one which now received all the attention of the state and the new enterprising merchant class and another which was left largely to its own survival. The first which we may now refer to as the 'modern sector' is made up of the mechanised boats in the realm of production and the more capital-intensive and export-oriented processing and distribution activities. The latter is what we referred to earlier as the 'traditional sector' composed of the non-mechanised crafts and the labour-intensive, internal market-oriented distribution and processing activity.
During the decade, fish production averaged 304,700 tonnes. As of 1969-70 the modern sector in fish production activity accounted for landings of 40,000 tonnes of fish/prawns (12 per cent), valued at Rs. 41.5 million. It gave direct employment to about 7,800 fishermen. The output per worker in the sector (accounting for 8 per cent of the active fishermen in the state) was 5,150 kg and his per capita income (current prices) was Rs. 1,600. At the same time the 90,6()0 fishermen operating non-mechanised crafts accounted for 88 per cent of the total fish landing in 1969-70 (303,000 tonnes) valued at Rs. 165.5 million. The output per fisherman in this sector was 3,340 kg or 35 per cent below his counterpart on the mechanised boats and his per capita income (current prices) was Rs. 1,095 (see Table 11.2).
|Value of Output||No. of||Output Per||Per Capila||Output Per|
|(in Rs. million)||Workers||Worker (kg)||Income of||Worker (Rs.)|
|1969 - 70||303||165.5||66.2||99.3||90660||3340||1095||1826|
The outcome of fisheries development was total polarisationof the sector into two-the commercial economy and the survival economy.
Clash of World Views
The conflict over living marine resources, as it is physically manifested in the sea in the Indian region, is largely between artisanal fishermen and the more commercialized operators. The levels of technology and the economic motives apart, one needs also to examine the implicit clash of 'world views' or value systems.
For the artisanal fishermen the sea is 'Kodalamma'-mother and goddess. For them her wealth is limitless and they accept her vicissitudinous moods of bloom and barrenness with equal aplomb. Respect for the ocean is inextricably linked to their intimate dependence on her for a livelihood. Only in her drying up would their existence be threatened.
Commercial operators on the other hand operate on the fundamental premise of nature being just another 'factor of production' which needs to be exploited and dominated to the fullest extent for their immediate and short-term gains. Even the concept of a 'caring dominance' (used in a creative, enhancing and protecting manners is totally alien and anathema to their rationale of activity.
The conflict over living marine resources is therefore at once a combination of conflicts between technological artefacts, economic motivations, and world views.
The social and ecological consequences of conflict
It has been indicated that the undeterred pursuit of profit provides the backdrop against which the causative factors for the conflicts over living marine resources, their harvesting and use are to be viewed. The prime consequences of the conflict-destruction of resource and marginalisation of those who labour-are therefore central to the logic of profit-making
Although nation-states have established sovereignty over large zones of the ocean, viewed from the perspective of the individual fisherman, living marine resources are still common property. Common ownership of a resource in a society premised on private property tantamounts to a situation where no one is to be held responsible or accountable for its maintenance and conservation. The mentality of 'whatever I do not harvest will be raped by another' provides the basis for maximum 'exploitation' of the resource in the shortest possible time.
Examples of resource ruin of marine fishing all over the world indicate that it is often in the interests of short run private profiteering to 'kill the goose'. As Daniel Fife points out, 'freedom of access to a resource brings ruin to the resource and NOT ruin to the entrepreneurs'. For the entrepreneurs, if the ratio of profits from indiscriminate harvesting to the profits from regulated harvesting is large enough under given conditions of investment, it pays to act indiscriminately and invest the higher profits as fast as they come in. In short, it pays to ruin the resource! This logic is very evident in India. The south-western coast of India accounts for the richest stocks of demersal prawns and pelagic shoals of oil sardines and mackerels. This region also has the highest number of bottom trawlers and purse-seiners which provide evidence of resource ruin being caused by their excessive operations.
The decline and changes in the resource may be the result of changes in the total biomass due to excessive harvesting of young fish or spawners. Alternatively, there may be drastic changes in the prey-predator relationships wiping out some of the more commercially valuable species and allowing for a growth of hitherto insignificant (both in terms of volume and value) varieties of fishes.
Excessive bottom trawling of inshore waters-something which is inevitable in the pursuit of prawns-is tantamount to a continuous raking of the seabed causing murky and turbid waters; destruction of the abodes of young demersal fish and bottom dwelling spawners. The cumulative effects of this are suddenly manifested in terms of a decline in the fish catch. Sometimes unfavourable oceanographic factors such as water temperature, currents and salinity may precipitate the crisis making it difficult to discern between man-made and natural factors causing the decline. The facts, however, seem to indicate that an aquatic milieu subjected to constant harassment is more prone to drastic imbalances spurred by oceanographic factors.
In the major prawn fishing area of south-west India, between 1973 and 1979, the catch dropped from 45,477 tonnes to 14,582 tonnes and the catch per unit effort from 82 kg per hour to 20 kg per hour. Trade sources also point to a shift in the composition of the export mix of prawns over time from the large (naran, kazhandan) to the smaller varieties (karikad,, poovalan). The latter three factors (fall in total production, catch per unit effort and size) are globally accepted as indicators of over-fishing.
Purse-seining for pelagic fish in the inshore waters is an excessively over-efficient technique. The encircling of whole schools of fish, particularly spawners, with each operation of the net, can, in tropical waters, lead to a species 'genocide', the ecological consequences of which will have very far-reaching and adverse effects.
In less than three quinquenium starting from 1970, Kerala's fisheries witnessed their greatest rise and fall. The decade of the seventies witnessed the highest ever fish landing and prawn landing in Kerala 448,000 tonnes and 84,700 tonnes, respectively in 1973-and also experienced stagnation and the sharpest decline in the growth of the overall catch. In the post-1974-76 period the decline in fish landing was of the order of 6 per cent per annum. Oil sardines and mackerels, once the mainstay of the fisheries, plunged to an all time low level. From a peak of 250,000 tonnes in 1968 the combined harvest of oil sardines and mackerels touched a low of 112,000 tonnes in 1975 and reached a rock bottom of 87,000 tonnes in 1980. Fish production was 279,000 tonnes in 1980, the lowest since 1961 (see Figure 11.1).54
Exports of marine products from Kerala on the other hand increased from 22,792 to 31,637 tonnes in 1979 valued at Rs. 1,096 million. Prawns accounted for the highest share of the volume and value of exports. However, Kerala's share in the all-India marine exports declined.
Investment growth despite stagnation of production
This stagnation and decline in fish landing becomes more prominent when seen against the background of increased investment in mechanised boats-small trawlers (for harvesting prawns), and purse-seiners (for harvesting oil sardines). The total number of mechanised boats by 1979-80 was estimated at around 3,500, more than double the number at the beginning of the seventies. The increase in fishing power did not result in a commensurate increase in the fish catch.
Marginalisation of the fishworker
It has been seen how conflicts at sea disrupt the lives of the majority of fishermen-restricting their fishing, damaging their nets and so forth. While it may pay the capitalist to ruin the resource, it spells disaster for the fishworkers whose labour converts the marine resource into commodities with use or exchange value. The evidence of the growing marginalisation of the majority of fishworkers in the region is really the cumulative consequence of all this.
The condition across the eight maritime states of India covering a coastline of 5,650 km (dotted with nearly 2,000 fishing villages) is more difficult to summarise than the condition of Kerala. As indicated earlier, the 'impact' of what has come to be termed as 'fisheries development' has varied widely. In states like Gujarat and Maharashtra increases in the productivity of fishermen and the distribution of the enhanced income so derived has been marked with less inequality when compared to the other states. The predominant hold on the new technologies by the fishing communities themselves was an important factor for ensuring this. In the other states along the south-west coast (Goa, Karnataka and Kerala) and the two south-eastern states (Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh) the polarization between artisanal fishermen and commercial operators is marked and the differences in productivity and income are becoming wider. Along the east coast the fish catch of artisanal fishermen has dwindled by 50 per cent to 75 per cent, the decline clearly coinciding with the introduction of trawlers. Several fish species which once formed important seasonal fisheries are now extinct. In Orissa and West Bengal marine fisheries development is still in its early stages therefore the full consequences of this development cannot be easily assessed.
At the national level, over a million active fishermen harvest nearly 65 per cent of the marine fish landing accounting for 0.5 cent of the gross domestic product and 60 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings of over US $350 million. These aggregates may appear impressive, but at the level of the individual fisherman, and this is particularly true of states which have a greater export orientation, his standard of living has barely improved if it has not worsened. In Kerala the plight of fishermen is rather deplorable. According to official estimates, half the fishermen households earn less than US $100 per annum and only 3 per cent earn over US $300. Half of them had only a thatched hut on the fringes of the seashore. Drinking water facilities within the village is a luxury enjoyed only by one-third of them. These deplorable conditions are in a state which accounts for over one-third of India's fish landings and over half of its marine exports earnings.
Undoubtedly, fishermen have only received the crumbs of fisheries development and the dichotomy between fisheries development and fishermen's development has become too wide to be bridged. The upheaval and ferment among the artisanal fishermen of Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which is at once an ecological movement and a social movement, testifies to the fact that the 'superstructure' built in the name of development and modernisation has become too heavy and burdensome for those who still continue to be the 'foundation' of the fish economy of India.
Resolving Conflict: The Fishermon's Movement
From 1981 onwards an annual feature in kerala in the month of may has been the upsurge of artisanal fishermen demanding their fundamental rights to a livelihood and guarantee of a sustainable future which will not be jeopardised by social forces which have an eye on fish resources primarily for making quick profits. An efficient technology controlled by such interests becomes a destructive tool, they argue, alluding to what they consider to be the ecological degradation of Kerala's coastal waters due to unregulated and indiscriminate bottom trawling for prawns and excessive purse-seining for oil sardines and mackerels.
While their movement has not been without contradictions, the consistent demands of artisanal fishermen over the years have been a call to:
Like all ideal conditions this is easier said than done. Often one comes across ill conceived demands, like a ban on fish exports, raised by well intentioned ecologists, and social activists as the panacea for all conflicts. However, as long as we admit that the conflict and the accompanying deprivation of nature and man is central to the logic of private profiteering, such panacea touches only the consequential level of the problem at hand.
It is our contention here that in India the population at large would benefit from a more balanced and farsighted programme of access and use of living marine resources. Ideally, a radical change in the countries of the region to social systems which emphasise social profitability and ecological sustainability is the only long term solution. Short of this, within their own present political frameworks they can still act decisively on a few matters of priority as good 'second best alternatives'.
Just as agrarian reforms are no more limited to the precincts of a socialist state, so also aquarian reforms on the sole grounds of economic and social rationality are a desirable step for any popular regime.
Aquarian reforms have two facets:
These reforms are mutually reinforcing and will restrict the tendency to enjoy short-term gains at the expense of a long-term crisis. They will ensure greater distributive justice, participation and sustainability.
Social Control over Technology and Markets
The pursuit to raise productivity is essential, but in this process to adopt a technological artefact that alienates man and devastates nature is suicidal. Unfortunately, many of the post-independence fishing technologies of the South Asian countries are of this genre. Encouraging and hastening the development of technologies that are more suitable to the pattern of the tropical marine resource base and which draw on the vast storehouse of scientific knowledge of the fishworkers must be deemed a priority. A very successful beginning in this direction has been made by a genuine fishermen's organisation called the South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies (SIFFS) located at the tip of the Indian peninsular in Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala state. The development of beach landing marine plywood canoes using a technique called stitch and glue has replaced the rapidly diminishing 'dugout' canoes which are in short supply due to the depletion of large trees in the forests. Not only are the canoes fashioned in the likeness of the time-tested traditional canoe by craftsmen of the locality, they also offer the additional possibilities for carrying more nets and using an engine-both of which help to increase productivity. It is an artefact both appropriate to the local milieu and 'appropriable' by the fishermen who use it.
The nature of distribution of marine resources in tropical waters is tantamount to Mother Nature's inherent bias for a small-scale fishing technology in the South Asian region. Small is ecologically appropriate.
The excessive preoccupation with centralisation of activity on the grounds of 'economies of scale' is also anathema to the South Asian fishing scene. Given the fragmented and highly dispersed nature of the resource base, a more decentralised spatial organisation of the harvesting and processing activity particularly with respect to inshore fishery is desirable. Such an approach will foster widespread income and employment and also generate cheaper! shorter trade loops so that fisheries becomes more responsive to local food needs.
The fishery export sector of the South Asian countries is marked by mercantile control, narrow product range and end markets. The low valued added, low volume, high value, high profit sale of crustaceans and cephalopods to a handful of markets at the buyer's terms, is an apt description of the trade.
While foreign exchange earnings are crucial for the countries of the region, earning it by (over)-exploiting a natural resource without any form of social control over the process is hardly a desirable approach. Adopting a middle line between nationalisation of the sector and its anarchic development would augur well for a large sustained earning from the resource. Measures such as taxation of the trade income and exclusive use of these funds for socially controlled management of the harvesting and regulation of the growth of the processing sector must become integral facets of any true fisheries development plan.
Regenerating the Survival Economy
As pointed out earlier, in all the south asian countries prior to the advent of planned fisheries development, the fish economies were primarily composed of thousands of fishworkers eking out a survival and fish was a source of inexpensive but nutritious food for a limited population in the coastal hinterland.
'Under-paid, second-class citizens-that's fishermen' was the headlines of a reputed journal of the region. This is true despite decades of 'development and modernization'. this period fish as a food has also become a semi-luxury product beyond the reach of the vast majority of the needy in the region. Both these conditions need to be changed. Contrary to the earlier 'wisdom', it is not a totally export-oriented strategy which will benefit these masses. Evidence from the region shows that the exclusive pursuit of prawns for exports leads largely to profits for a few and the pauperisation of many.
Increased productivity through appropriate technological changes, backed by the suggested acquarian reform, linked to the expansion of the national/regional market for fish, is the only way to achieve the twin objectives of a decent livelihood for fish workers and nutritious food for the masses.
The livelihood and food perspective of fisheries development needs to be accorded a high priority in the planning process in the South Asian countries. A lot more lip-service to this perspective is also desirable since it is presently relegated to the realm of the 'unfashionable'.
As 'second best alternatives', to be implemented in social systems whose very logic will militate against their success, the above mentioned suggestions should not be viewed in isolation. The transition from conflict to harmony necessitates a holistic approach to remedial action. The experience from the region, particularly from India and more specifically from its conflict ridden south-west maritime states, indicates that initiatives for remedial action will necessarily require the active paticipation and pressure of those most affected by the conflict-the fishworkers. Their participation restricted merely to the political arena is hardly sufficient. It must extend to concretely demonstrating that an alternative path for the development of living marine resources is both desirable and possible. Herein lies the challenge posed by the conflict over living marine resources in India today.
The diverse case studies related to conflicts over two vital natural resources, forests and water, indicate an underlying pattem. These conflicts emerge from 'development' interventions, which are primarily aimed at commercial exploitation of natural resources. At a superficial level, the diversion of resources from sustenance needs to the demands of the market generates conflicts between commercial interests and people's survival. At a deeper level, the diversion of resources from nature's economy of essential ecological processes to the market economy of commodity transactions generates ecological conflicts.
A schematic picture of how ecological crises emerge, and how conflicts arise is presented in Figure 12.1. With the growth of market economy in individual sectors, resource consumption rapidly increases. In polarised societies like India, this instantaneously leads to resource conflicts. Based on the politics of distribution of benefits (RC,), struggles for justice have hitherto been based on how the cake is shared. Ecology movements link sustainability with justice. They are based on the politics of distribution of costs of resource degradation (RC). They raise issues of how a cake is made, and indicate that increased sectoral production and economic growth does not make the cake any bigger. In fact the cake often shrinks because of the patterns of natural resource utilisation which accompany economic growth.
With the continuous growth of sectoral economic activity, which is guided solely by the economic forces of the market, there arises a situation where the total withdrawal of natural resources both for basic needs satisfaction and for sectoral growth, becomes more than the renewability of natural resources. At this point, the Gross National Product (GNP,) keeps increasing while the Gross Natural Product (GNP:) starts declining. With this decline in the renewability of natural resources or the Gross Natural Product, the conflict over distribution of benefits becomes more acute and new conflicts over distribution of costs arise. Else poor and marginalised groups suffer because the natural resource base of their survival economy is eroded, and the lack of income and purchasing power prevents them from entering the market economy. If the process of decline in the renewability of natural resources is allowed beyond a critical limit, the process of degradation becomes irreversible. Once this critical limit of degradation is crossed, the politics of distribution of benefits becomes irrelevant for the survival of the people. With the collapse of the productivity of nature's economy, not only does the survival economy collapse, but the market economy also collapses. The history of Roman and Mesopotamiam civilisationsis an example of total societal collapse due to the erosion of nature's economy. Ecology movements are interventions in these processes of decay and disintegration, that have in isolated and localised forms existed throughout human history, but have become pervasive and global with the ideology of development.
From Commons to Commodities
Development projects inevitably involve a major shift in the way rights to resources are perceived. At the political level, development involves the privatization of resources. This transformation of commons into commodities has two implications. First, it deprives the politically weaker groups of their right to survival, which they had through access to commons. Second, it robs from nature its right to self-renewal and sustainability, by eliminating the social constraints on resource use that are the basis of common property management. In Third World countries the transformation of natural resources, i.e., from commons to commodities, has been largely mediated by the state. However, state initiated development activity does not necessarily focus on the collective public interest. It can often be a powerful instrument of privatisation of resources. Thus, while the forests were transformed from village commons to state reserved forests, they were managed to serve the interests of the private pulp and paper industry by ensuring cheap and regular supply of raw material. Similarly, while dams are built by public funds and state bureaucracies, they aim to satisfy the energy and water needs of private industry or the irrigation needs of cash crop cultivation. Credit from public sector banks is essentially used to finance the private tubewells or private trawlers of economically powerful groups. Conflicts over natural resources are therefore conflicts over rights. Most critical ecology movements are based simultaneously on the need to protect nature, and the need to strengthen people's collective rights to common resources.
The destruction of commons was essential for the creation of natural resources for a supply of raw material to industry. A life support system can be shared, it cannot be owned as private property or exploited for private profit. Commons therefore had to be privatised, and people's sustenance base in these commons had to be appropriated for feeding the engine of industrial progress and capital accumulation.
Commons, which the Crown in England had termed wastelands, were not really waste. They were productive lands, providing extensive common pastures for the animals of the established peasant communities, timber and stone for building, reeds for thatching and baskets, wood for fuel, wild animals and birds, fish and fowl, berries and nuts for food. These areas supported large numbers of small peasants through these common rights. They also gave shelter to the poorer and landless peasants who migrated from the overcrowded open field villages of the corn-growing districts. But at the same time these wastes and unimproved commons were 'the richest seams of untouched wealth that a landlord could hope to find on his estate in the seventeenth century...' apart from minerals. By clearing trees, draining marshes, fertilising barren soils and enclosing the improved grounds and parcelling them out into large farms for lease at competitive rents, the lords of the manors could tap the new wealth. It would benefit not only the landlords, but also those who could afford these leases. But it would be at the expense of the landless, the medium and smaller peasants who would be impoverished by the loss of their pasture and common rights, on which the viability of their farms so often depended, labourers and industrial workers who would be deprived of the resources that kept them from being entirely dependent on wages or poor relief. Thus there developed a head-on clash between the lords of manors and the main body of the peasantry in many parts of the country over their respective rights and shares in the unimproved commons and wastes. This conflict was to decide whether the landlords and big farmers or the mass of the peasantry were to control and develop the wastes and commons. This was the central agrarian issue of the 1630s and 1640s and of the English Revolution.
The fate of the forests was similar to the pastures. The Crown possessed the forests, while the peasants had common rights to forest produce. With the increasing resource demand for capitalist growth, the Crown adopted a policy of deforestation. As a result, the peasants lost their common rights, and the Crown and the lords of manors, enclosed their deforested land and parcelled.them into large farms for lease at competitive rents. The policy of deforestation and the enclosure of the forest commons led to 'perhaps the largest single out-break of popular discontent in the thirty-five years which preceded the start of the civil war In the period 1628 to 131 large crowds attacked and broke down the enclosures and large areas of England were in a state of rebellion.
The policy of deforestation and the enclosure of commons was later replicated in the colonies. In India, the first Indian Forest Act was passed in 1865 by the Supreme Legislative Council, which authorised the government to declare forests and wastelands ('benap' or unmeasured lands) as reserved forests. The introduction of this legislation marks the beginning of what is called the 'scientific management' of forests; it amounted basically to the formalisation of the erosion both of forests and of the rights of local people to forest produce.
The transformation of common property rights into private property rights' implies the exclusion of the right to survival for large sections of society. The realisation that under conditions of limited availability? uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources involves taking away resources from those who need them for survival has been an underlying element of Indian philosophy. Prudent and restrained use of resources has been viewed as an essential element of social justice. According to an ancient Indian text, the Isopanishad, a selfish man overutilising the resources of nature to satisfy his own ever increasing needs is nothing but a thief, because using resources beyond one's needs would result in the utilisation of resources over which others have a right. This relationship between restraint in resource use and social justice was also the core element of Gandhi's political philosophy. In his view, 'the earth provides enough for everyone's need, but not for some people's greed.'
The Chipko and the Appiko, the anti-dam and anti-drought movements, and the struggle of traditional fishermen are different forms of contemporary expressions of ecology as justice. They differ from earlier responses in the fact that they do not merely warn against the potential threat to human survival, but they emerge from the existential reality and the concrete threat to survival arising from unjust and destructive use of natural resources.
They differ from earlier responses in that they do not merely face the explicit and formal dispossession of basic rights by colonial powers, but also the tacit and hidden dispossession resulting from the privileged use of capital and technology by some sections of society. Financial investments and technology inputs are the two prime instruments through which informal rights to privatisation of common resources are established. International aid and technology transfer for 'development' are central to the diversion of natural resources from nature's economy and survival economy to the market economy. On the one hand this ensures privatization of common resources, on the other it contributes to the globalisation of control over local resources.
From Local to Global Control
Development as an ideology allows the indirect entry of global market domination. it creates the need for international aid and foreign debt which provide the capital for such development projects that commercialize or privatise resources. Local resources thus increasingly move out of control of local communities and even national governments into the hands of international financial institutions. The conditions for the loan determine the mode of utilization of natural resources. Thus World Bank loans that finance forestry projects are tied to cultivation of Eucalyptus to generate high financial rates of return, even though Eucalyptus mono cultures return little to the soil, and yield no benefits for the poorer sections of rural society in search of fodder and food. Similarly, rates of return on investments in irrigation projects create an imperative for cash crop cultivation and wastage of water, even though it leaves the land waterlogged or an arid desert. The logic of international financing is not linked to nature's law of return but to the banking compulsion of returns on investment. The pressure of repayment and servicing of debts further consolidates the globalization. Total integration with the global market economy thus marginalises the concern for nature's economy and the survival economy. In the resulting anarchy of resource use, the visible enclaves of economic development with their elite minority residents enjoy a disproportionately high access to resources and the invisible hinterlands of economic underdevelopment, the homes of the silent majority, are left with shrinking access to a shrinking resource base.
Ecology movements in India are an expression of protest against the destruction of the two vital economies of natural processes and survival from the anarchy of development based on market economy. It is not surprising that these movements are strongly critical of the international lending institutions, whose finance fuels the process of the monetary growth-oriented economic development at the cost of ecology and survival. Thus, it is also not surprising that these international lending institutions and the elite of the recepient countries perceive these ecology movements as obstructionists and anti-progress, since they are committed to obstruct ecological destruction and halt the process that results in progress for a few and hardships for many. In the perspective of the three economies, the proverbial cake is shrinking, while in the limited perspective of the market economy there is a short-term and unsustainable growth. On the one hand there is increasing scarcity of water, of forms of biomass like fodder and fuel, and an ever increasing threat of temporary meteorological drought turning into large-scale, permanent desertification. On the other hand there are more bottled drinks, more milk and milk products in urban markets, more flowers and vegetables for urban and export markets.
Left to itself the development programmes of the Third World would have, by now, internalized the vital economies of natural processes and survival. The emergence of large international aid projects and loans, however, lends tremendous support to the classical model of growth based development. It is from this perspective that ecology movements are critically evaluating the international financial institutions and their aid giving programmes In this context the most vocal criticisms have been raised against agencies like the World Bank and its regional counterparts. There are three important reasons why ecology movements are highly critical of multilateral development banks (MDB).
First, a high percentage of the loans and credits from these banks is allocated to environmentally sensitive areas such as agriculture, forestry, dams and irrigation. In 1983, half the project loans totalling US $22 billion were directed to these sectors globally. Thus, although as a percentage of total economic investment these loans account for only a small fraction, in terms of the impact on natural resource systems they are very significant.' As the case studies in this volume indicate, World Bank financing has in general played a catalytic role in generating conflicts over natural resources. Whether it is forestry, dams, or irrigation projects, World Bank funding has created the context for diversion of natural resources from the maintenance of ecological balance and sustenance of human survival to the generation of short-term profits.
Second, that these MDBs are crucial to determining the development patterns and resource use in Third World countries is reflected by the fact that they require borrowing governments to demonstrate commitment to projects by pledging so-called 'counterpart' funds and making complementary investments of their own. The World Bank in particular has overwhelming influence on the overall development policy through its country programming and sector policy papers and country economic memoranda. But the MDBs' greatest leverage is in 'structural adjustment' and sector lending by which the banks influence long term economic policy and not only single projects. The Structural
Adjustment Loans of the World Bank are creating long-term institutional changes towards privatization and the adoption of a strategy of export led growth, both of which strongly influence the pattern of control over and utilization of natural resources.
The third mechanism by which the MDBs affect the utilization of natural resources is through the links between foreign aid and export financing. In 1978, Johnston J., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, testified to the US Congress that 'every dollar we pay into the MDB's generates about $3 business for U.S. firms'.' Bushnell, Deputy Director for Developing Nations of the US Department of Treasury, told the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the House Appropriations Committee on 16 March 1976:
From U.S. national point of view these banks encourage development along lines compatible with our own economy. They stress the role of market forces in the effective allocation of resources and the development of outward-looking trading economies... our participation.... in international development banks will also provide more assured access to essential raw materials, and a better climate for U.S. investment in the Developing world.... '
The massive involvement of international finance in the economic development of Third World countries changes the natural resource management strategies in drastic ways. Rapid growth of export-oriented resource utilisation has led countries into the debt trap, with its concomitant ecological degradation. The link between borrowing and ecological degradation can be exemplified in the case of Brazil. In 1984-82 Brazil had borrowed nearly US $300 million which rose to about US $950 million in 1983 and 1984. When the disbursements were used up Brazil was not able to generate the counterpart funds to complete the projects and loan repayment started on incomplete projects. The burden is on farming for export, leading to increasing deforestation and human displacement in the Amazon. The story of Africa, the continent with the most serious ecological crises, is no different. In 1983 there were no African countries among the large debtors. Today, the external debt of forty-two sub-Saharan economies is in the order of US $130 135 billion. The case of Sudan is illustrative of what is happening in Africa. A few years ago, agencies like the FAO viewed Sudan as having the greatest agriculture potential, especially for export crops. Sudan did 'develop' its agriculture with heavy borrowing. Today, Sudan has a US $78 million proposal for emergency aid and US $213 million In interest due after rescheduling on US $10 billion external debt. Thousands of Africans are dying because development first destroyed their sustenance base and paying the debts for that development is further depriving them of their entitlement to survival. When the whole economy has virtually collapsed, Africa's ecological regeneration is surely a far cry. The state of anarchy of development and its after-effects are summarised in the following words of the Peruvian President Garcia Perez:
At this moment when hundreds of millions of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America are waiting in vain for food, when poverty and violence loom over our societies, the banks can wait: the poor have waited long enough for reason and justice.... we say that first comes the need to defend our natural wealth. We are not going to pay, as in Shakespeare's 'Merchant of Venice', with the flesh and blood of our people: we are going to defend and retain within our country the surpluses and resources that the vicious structure of the world economy directs abroad.
The need for development that will lead to improved standards of living, not undermine them, that will create ecological stability, not instabilities, is clear. The crisis of market orientation of economic development has generated responses from the local communities as well as from ecological movements. The contribution of international development aid and loan to the processes of ecological destruction of the resource base for survival in the Third World has provided the platform for a joint global response of ecology movements in the North as well as in the South.
The World Rainforest movement is a worldwide alliance of organisations and individuals concerned about the destruction of forests, and is an attempt to reverse this process. It has been severely critical of the US $8 billion Tropical Forest Action Plan (TFAP), part of a global plan initiated by the World Bank, to expand commercial forestry activities in tropical forest regions as an attempt to ~conserve' tropical forests.
The TFAP has several major flaws. First, it fails to take into account the role of international development financing in the destruction of tropical forests through dams, mining and resettlement projects and blames; the poor for this destruction. It is biased against the poor, in both form and content. Second, the Plan is an extension and expansion of ongoing World Bank forestry projects which have had serious negative social and ecological impacts. These projects are based exclusively on the 'retums on investment logic' and prescribe the large-scale transformation of natural forests as well as prime agricultural lands into commercial plantations of industrial wood. The Plan has a commercial and industrial bias and is indifferent to human and ecological concerns. Third, the different projects under various categories of 'agroforestry', 'watershed' and 'industrial plantations' all sham this commercial and industrial bias. The Plan is misleading both in terms of nomenclature of projects and investment profiles. It takes forestry away from the control of communities and makes it a capital-intensive, externally controlled activity. Fourth, the Plan does not take into account the rights of indigenous peoples who have lived in tropical forests since time immemorial. It overlooks the economies of tribal and peasant life based on natural forests and food production and focuses exclusively on the economies of production of commercial wood.
Under the theology of the market that the World Bank propagates, commercialization of forestry and land use is the objective. The commercial interest has the primary objective of maximising profitability in the market through the extraction of commercially valuable species. Forest ecosystems are therefore reduced to timber mines of commercially valuable species.
The Tropical Forest Action Plan based on the market is a plan for the increased destruction of tropical ecosystems and destitution of local communities. It is inherent in the logic of globalisation to destroy diversity and, hence, ecological stability which is an outcome of diversity. The contemporary food crisis and famine conditions stem from the globalisation of agriculture through the Green Revolution. Further aggravation of the ecological destruction of the tropical countries in future will arise from the Second Green Revolution-the globalisation and total commercialization of forestry including its genetic base. Conservation presupposes maintenance of diversity, and diversity can only be maintained locally. People's action plan for saving tropical forests and tropical peoples has to be based not on the rule of the market, but on respect both for nature and for people's survival needs. It has to be based not on the ideology of trees as 'green gold' to be exploited and felled, but as life-support systems which must be protected. In particular, it has to build on the little traditions of people which ensure the protection of nature and local communities and do not allow them to become victims of global markets and plans.
Ecological recovery cannot be based on centralized and globalised control over resources. It has to be based on the decentralised logic of Gandhi's 'ever-widening, never ascending' circles.
Life will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose centre will be the individual always ready to perish for the village, the latter ready to perish for the circle of villages till at last the whole becomes one life composed of individuals, never aggressive in their arrogance, but ever humble, sharing the majesty of the oceanic circle of which they are integral units. Therefore, the outermost circumference will not wield power to crush the inner circle, but will give strength to all within and will derive its own strength from at
Can the Market Solve the Ecological Crisis?
The ideology of this development is, however, confined within the limits of the market economy. It views conflicts over natural resources and ecological destruction as distinct from the economic crisis, and proposes solutions to the ecological crisis in the expansion of the market system. As a result, instead of programmes of gradual ecological regeneration of nature's economy and the survival economy, immediate and enhanced exploitation of natural resources with higher capital investment is prescribed as a solution to the crisis of survival. Clausen, the President of the World Bank, recommended that 'a better environment, more often than not, depends on continued growth. In a more recent publication Chandlers further renews the argument in favour of a market-oriented solution to ecological problems and believes that concern for conservation can only come through the market. Solow, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to economics in 1987, states that production and growth can completely do away with exhaustible natural resources and exhaustion of resources is not a problem. It is alleged that 'the ancient concern about the depletion of natural resources no longer rests on any firm theoretical basis'. This belief of modem economics is based on its unquestionable faith in modern Western science. As Solow states: If it is very easy to substitute other factors for natural resources, then there is, in principle, no problem. The world can, in effect, get along without natural resources, so exhaustion is just an event, not a catastrophe.
As illustrated by the case studies in the preceding chapters, and schematised in Figure 12.1 economic growth takes place through over-exploitation of natural resources which creates a scarcity of natural resources in nature's economy and the survival economy. Further economic growth cannot help in the regeneration of the very spheres which must be destroyed if economic growth has to take place. Nature shrinks as capital. The growth of the market cannot solve the very crisis it creates. Further, while natural resources can be converted into cash, cash cannot be converted into nature's ecological processes. Those who offer market solutions to the ecological crisis limit themselves to the market, and look for substitutes to the commercial function of natural resources as commodities and raw material. However, in nature's economy, the currency is not money, it is life.
The increased availability of financial resources cannot regenerate the life lost in nature through ecological destruction. An African peasant captured this essence: You cannot turn a calf into a cow by plastering it with mud.
The neglect of the role of natural resources in ecological processes and in people's sustenance economy, and the diversion and destruction of these resources for commodity production and capital accumulation, are the main reasons for the ecological crisis and the crisis of survival in the Third World. The solution seems to lie in giving local communities control over local resources so that they have the right and responsibility to rebuild nature's economy, and through it their sustenance.
Speth believes that economic growth is imperative, and only technology continued economic growth is essential as ecological recovery arises from an artificial separation of development from conservation, with connections established only through financial investment. Further conservation is reduced to 'wilderness' management, and development is viewed as the exclusive domain of production. Nature and people's self-provisioning economies have no role in production according to this view. Nature is defined as free of humans. The commercial approach to conservation is best illustrated in the WRI/UNDP Working Paper on The International Conservation Financing Project (Figure 12.2).
Since conservation is conceptualised as dependent on finances, and increased financial resources can only be generated through economic growth, it is assumed that economic growth is an imperative for conservation.
The Third World reality, however, indicates something else which is schematised in Figure 12.3, adapted from Fahser who has discussed the different constellations of production factors- nature (soil), man (work), capital. Fahser has also indicated that because of their different degrees of importance or vulnerability, these production factors cannot be exchanged at will or stood on their heads without threatening to upset the equilibrium.
In a stable constellation of economic organization, nature's economy is recognised as the most basic, both in the sense that it is the base of the survival and market economies, and in the sense that it has the highest priority to and claim to natural resources. However, development and economic growth treat the market economy as primary, and nature's economy and the survival economy as marginal and secondary. Capital accumulation does lead to financial growth, but it erodes the natural resource base of all three economies. The result is a high level of ecological instability, as illustrated in the ecological crisis created by commercial forestry, commercial irrigation and commercial fishing. In order to resolve ecological conflicts and regenerate nature these economies must be given their due place in the stable foundation of a healthy nature. The anarchy of growth and the ideology of development based on it are the prime reasons underlying the ecological crises and destruction of natural resources. The introduction of unsustainable cash crops in large parts of Africa is among the main reasons for the ecological disaster in that continent. The destruction of the ecological balance of the rainforests of South America is the result of the growth of agribusiness and cattle
According to the International Conservation Financing Project (WRWNDP), the figure above illustrates the extent to which an increased environmental orientation in development planning broadens the activities of development institution to in clude more conservation components (represented by the dotted contours of the larger triangle) as part of their overall programmes. The narrow top of the triangle suggests that increased commtment from such institutions will not meet all conservation financing needs Therefore, increasing the financial commitment of environmental institutions and the creation of new institutions (shown by the contours of the smaller triangle) may help fill this gap of unmet needs.
Development and economic growth are perceived exclusively in terms of processes of capital accumulation. However, the growth of financial resources at the level of the market economy often takes place by diverting natural resources from people's survival economy and nature's economy. On the one hand this generates conflicts over natural resources,' on the other hand it creates an ecologically unstable constellation of nature, people and capital. ranching in the clear felled areas. The business groups encouraging cash cropping can opt out when the productivity of newly opened lands declines. They have no compulsion towards the ecological rehabilitation of the ravaged land. They command the resource base by making decisions that transcend their basis in legal ownership, but do not have to bear the ecological costs of the destruction of soil and water systems. The costs of destruction of Africa's grazing lands and farm lands, and of Latin America's forests have not been borne by multinational food corporations but by the local peasants and tribals. Agribusiness just moves on to other resources and other sectors to maintain and increase profits. The global market economy has no internal mechanism for ensuring ecological rehabilitation of natural resources destroyed by the market itself. The costs of ecological destruction are to be borne by the inhabitants of the respective areas alone, who participate in the survival economy of the same land. Under these conditions, the market is incapable of responding to the requirements of nature's economy and the survival economy. Even while the market economy erodes nature's economy and creates new forms of poverty and dispossession, the market is proposed as a solution to the problem of ecologically-induced poverty. Such a situation arises because the expansion of the market is mechanically assumed to lead to development and poverty alleviation. In the ideology of the market, people are defined as poor because they do not participate overwhelmingly in the market economy and do not consume commodities produced for and distributed through the market even though they might satisfy those needs through self-provisioning mechanisms. They are perceived as poor and backward if they eat self-grown nutritious millets and not commercially produced and distributed processed foods; and if they live in ecologically suited, self-built houses made from local natural resources like bamboo, stone or mud instead of cement or concrete bought from the market; and if they wear indigenously designed hand-made garments of natural fibre instead of mechanically manufactured clothes made of man-made fibres. Bahro has quoted an African writer who differentiated between poverty and misery. Culturally conceived poverty based on non Western modes of consumption is often mistaken to be misery. Culturally conceived poverty is not materially rooted poverty or misery. Millets or maize, the common non-Western staple foods, are nutritionally far superior to processed foods and are once again becoming popular in the West as health foods. Huts constructed with local materials represent an ecologically more evolved method of providing shelter to human communities than the concrete houses in many rural socio-ecological conditions. Natural fibres and local costume's are far superior in satisfying the region specific need for clothing than the machine-made nylon and teylene clothing, especially in the tropical climate. These culturally induced perceptions of poverty and backwardness have provided undeserving legitimisation for the accepted form of development? which has in turn created further conditions for invisible material poverty, or misery. by the denial of survival needs themselves through resource-intensive production processes. Cash crop production and food processing divert land and water resources away from sustenance needs, and exclude increasing numbers of people from their entitlement to food as described by Barnett:
The inexorable processes of agriculture-industrialisation and internationalisation-are probably responsible for more hungry people than either cruel wars and unusual whims of nature. There are several reasons why the high-technology-export-crop model increases hunger. Scarce land, credit, water and technology are pre-empted for the export market. Most hungry people are not affected by the market at all.... The profits flow to corporations that have no interest in feeding hungry people without money.
At no point has the global marketing of agricultural commodities been assessed in the light of the new conditions of scarcity and poverty that it has induced. This new poverty is no longer cultural and relative, it is absolute and threatening the very survival of millions on this planet. At the root of this new material poverty lies an economic paradigm which is governed by the market forces. Neither can it assess the extent of its own requirements for natural resources, nor can it assess the impact of this demand on ecological stability and survival. As a result, economic activities that are most efficient and productive within the limited context of the market economy, often become inefficient and destructive in the context of the other two economies of nature and survival. The logic of the market by itself is not adequate to induce these changes in resource use that threaten ecology and survival especially in the context of the Third World.
Ecology movements linked to survival are more promising. As the analyses of people's responses to development induced scarcity indicate, ecology movements in India are struggles of the disadvantaged aimed at conserving nature's balance to conserve their option for survival. They are movements of the marginal communities who have been deprived of the benefits of the dominant development pattern but who bear all the costs of this development. The goals and priorities of ecology movements are to ensure local survival, yet because local survival is threatened by non-local pressures (either in terms of direct exploitation or in ferms of development paradigms and development financing), local movements have non-local, sometimes even global implications. Furthermore, since local survival is threatened by particular scientific perceptions and technological modes which have become global, in spite of being rooted in a particular culture, ecological movements as a struggle for survival at the local level impinge on the global scientific and technological culture, as critiques of its special bias, and as sources for alternative science and technology systems.
The ecological threats to survival demand a paradigm shift in the perception of economic development. Societies have not always progressed along the Rostownian linear path, those that have neglected their resource base for sustenance have collapsed after an initial period of growth. The collapse of the Mayan and Mesopotamian civilisations was associated with a collapse of their life systems. The threat to the survival of the sub-Saharan countries is again rooted in the destruction of life-support systems. Societies have never followed paths of unending growth based Oh over-exploitation of resources. The history of civilisation can be depicted in terms of two models. According to the first model, societies traverse the path of the classical trajectory, they rise and they fall. This happens when they do not limit their resource utilisation within the constraints impose-d by the cycles and processes of nature. According to the second model, they move in a stationary state or in an orbit, like an electron around the atom or the satellite around the earth, with and not against the cycles of life. To be in a stationary state does not mean to be stationary, it involves movement and progression within an orbit. The ecological consciousness of ancient civilisations had allowed them to progress along the 'stationary' or ecologically stable state. But just as classical physics is incapable of explaining or understanding the motion of the electron, conventional economics interpreted stability as stagnation, and stationary state movement as no movement at all. Capturing this civilisational conflict between stable and unstable societies, Gandhi stated that modern civilisation seeks to increase bodily comforts, and it fails miserably even in doing so.... This civilisation is such that one has only to be patient and it will be self-destroyed.... there is no end to the victims destroyed in the fire of (this) civilization. Its deadly effect is that people come under its scorching flames believing it to be all good.
It is a charge against India that her people are so uncivilised, ignorant and stolid, that it is not possible to induce them to adopt any changes. It is a charge really against our strength. What we have tested and found true on the anvil of experience, we dare not change. Many thrust their advice upon India, but she remains steady. This is her beauty, it is the sheet anchor of our hope.
Contemporary ecology movements are a renewed attempt to establish that steadiness and stability is not stagnation, and balance with nature's essential ecological processes is not scientific and technological backwardness, but scientific and technological sophistication towards which the world must strive if planet earth and her children are to survive. At a time when a quarter of the world's population is threatened by starvation due to the erosion of soil, water and genetic diversity of living resources, chasing the mirage of unending growth, by spreading resource destruction technologies, becomes a major source of genocide. Killing people by destroying nature is an invisible form of violence which is at present the biggest threat to justice, peace and survival. Claude Alvares has called it the Third World War: 'A War waged in peacetime, without comparison but involving the largest number of deaths and the largest number of soldiers without uniform'.
Ecology movements are a non-violent response to this Third World War which threatens the survival of humanity and which must destroy all, even the victors. They are political movements for a non-violent world order in which nature is conserved for conserving the options for survival. These movements are small, but they are growing. They are local, but their success lies in their non-local impact. They demand only the right to survival yet with that minimal demand is associated the right to live in a peaceful and just world. With the success of these grassroots movements is linked the global issue of survival. Unless the world is restructured ecologically at the level of world views and life-styles, peace and justice will continue to be violated and ultimately the very survival of humanity will be threatened. The counter trend captured in emerging ecology movements is indicative of incipient attempts at such a fundamental restructuring towards justice and sustainability.