Death of twenty is a tragedy. Death of twenty thousand is a statistic – Stalin
This is exactly the situation Karnataka is in, today. Tamil Nadu complaining it is not getting water for these many hectares is on one side and a particular farmer who will not get even a single drop of water if Karnataka releases water to Tamil Nadu is on the another. For him, his farm is more important than a distant Tamil Nadu getting his legal share of water. No individual, in this state, will allow release of water. He can even challenge the verdict with his life. And this single farmer is more potent a political force than whole of Tamil Nadu combined.
The background of the problem is this. Good or bad, there is an agreement between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over distribution of Kaveri river water. By that, Tamil Nadu is entitled to get some water. Even, Karnataka’s picture is not that rosy. It’s not as if it has surplus and it is holding the water to torment Tamil Nadu. It is also starving for water there. But, Supreme Court has ordered Karnataka to release the water. Karnataka cribbed but it declared it will release water to the tune of 19000 cusecs per day. Bangalore exploded in violence immediately and the image the city had took a severe beating with companies shut down, violent protests and curfew all over. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that 10 companies of CRPF had to be rushed in to control the riots. Total losses in Bangalore – imputed, projected as well as real are pegged at 25-50000 crores. Tamil property was damaged, Tamilians were threatened and all sorts of noise was made. How much of this is for the forthcoming elections and it’s funding through ransoms, we will never know. Because Karnataka burnt protesting release of water, Tamil Nadu should burn protesting acts against Tamils in Karnataka. Who is to blame for this? Obviously, the one who is ordered to release water and the one who dared the Supreme Court. But, what is being done to enforce the judgement?
Looking at this, there are a few important points we need to ponder over.
1. What is the water storage capacity of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu? What percentage of it is lost to silting of reservoirs and how much more can be trapped in tanks or whatever? What is the desilting policy?
2. What is the percentage increase in water holding capacity of both the states post independence? Is it not time we buckle up and do something meaningful?
3. What are both the states doing to trap flood water? Do they have any spill over or sort of lift irrigation scheme to remove a part of flood water to fill reservoirs in remote areas?
4. The agreement was made ages before and a revision, unpalatable to both was provided. In this case, a scientific basis for calculation of the share should be established and should be revised every ten years. This should be done not based on the historic share, but based on the current usage – agriculture land, industries and cities, with any additional industries or farmlands in the last five years neglected. This will ensure that the data available will be real time and will iron out the issues even better.
5. Today’s case is that Karnataka dared the decision to release water to Tamil Nadu. What is the recourse to bend Karnataka? One possible case is a fine of may be one lakh per cusec of water stopped. This will flow from Centre’s coffers directly into the aggrieved’s coffers. 120 crores per day is not a small amount for any state level entity. Either Karnataka releases water or it loses water. The financial pressure can handle the issues or in case it is ready to bite the bullet, Tamil Nadu can use the money to better it’s irrigation system
6. Government of India’s data shows Tamil Nadu needs 4557 litres of water to produce one kilo of rice. West Bengal, on the contrary, uses 2169 litres per kilo. Even, West Bengal’s number is double that of China or Brazil. This can mean two things – there is too much wastage of water in Tamil Nadu or per hectare output of rice in Tamil Nadu is atrocious. Either case, it’s the fault of the government to let it happen. What did the government, then, do to educate the farmers and guide them in the right direction?
7. 25000 crores is the loss to Bangalore and insurance doesn’t cover property damaged during rioting. Who will compensate the individual who lost his property? Surely, not me, sitting in Chennai or Hyderabad and funding it through the taxes I paid. It’s a fault of Bangalore and people in Bangalore should hold collective responsibility for whatever happened there. There should be a riot levy imposed on the city based on a formula, may be as a surcharge on VAT. The number of days it should be imposed and the extra tax rate should be based on an automated formula but less than a month. Once it starts pinching the pockets of everyone in Bangalore, especially of those innocent or those from the silent majority who saw Bangalore burning without any intervention will then be proactive enough to boot out the ruckus creators.