The ebbing water states of India

As India enters peak monsoon season, water troubles in the country intensify. While the mainland struggles with class and regional disputes, the North-East drowns under a surplus of water.

Looking to the North-East

According to India Today, the flood crisis in Assam is improving as the water level of Brahmaputra recedes. The flood victims from districts of Darrang, Barpeta, Chirang, Morigaon, Nagaon, Hojai, Jorhat and Cachai are returning to their homes however 2,816 people are still stuck in 11 relief camps across the state. The district of Morigaon is the worst affected area. After the death of one person on Monday the death count has reached 91.

Trouble in the capital

Delhi has not been spared from the boiling water crisis across the country. There is a vast disparity that is evident in the water supply in the slums and the more upscale neighbourhoods. As reported by India Today, the well-groomed and regularly swept gated communities are paying Rs. 700 to Rs. 1000 a month for their water, whereas giant trucks drive into the slum areas, to distribute water from a tanker, rather than through the pipes.

Over 30 citizens of Sangam Vihar told Reuters that the water problem has been a persistent issue for them, and is proving even more difficult as the summers get hotter. Some even complained that they fell sick after consuming the water being sold by local suppliers – having to resort to expensive, branded bottles packaged by big industries.

At a time like this, when water is already hard to come by, some residents caught a Delhi Jal Board truck racing down the streets with its water leaking profusely from a punctured tanker.

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs released a prediction, saying that Delhi is one of the states of India that is at an extreme risk of water shortage. The Climate Change Vulnerability Index also suggests that as a result of climate change, phenomena like an extended dry season may prove matters even more difficult for Delhi.

Water war in the south

The Cauvery Water Dispute surfaces as one among the apex of the river water sharing issue. The recent outbreak of violence in Karnataka can be attributed to the Supreme Court’s recent verdict on the amount of water to be released by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu from 15,000 cusecs a day to 12,000 cusecs a day.

The Cauvery River originates in Karnataka’s Kodagu district, flows into Tamil Nadu. The Cauvery river originates in Karnataka’s Kodagu district, flows into Tamil Nadu. Initially the tussle was between Karnataka and TN but Kerala and Puducherry has also joined in.

The history of this issue dates back to 1892 under the British regime. The real problem however surfaced in 1974. when  Karnataka asserted that the 1924 agreement entailed a discontinuation of the water supply to Tamil Nadu after 50 years.

Centre’s plan of action

Meanwhile, Times of India has reported that the Jal Shakti ministry has prepared the River Basin Management bill, the third of its kind to address the issue of water conservation using the river basin approach. The bill includes 13 river basins all over the country including Ganga, Krishna, Cauvery, Tapi, Subarnekha, Pennar, Mahanadi, Brahmani-Baitarini. Under the bill, each river basin will have a two-tier system where each minister will look the basin’s conservation and water distributions.