Delivering the inaugural talk during the Delhi Assembly lecture series on the topic ‘Water and Farm Crises in India’, journalist P Sainath said water crisis is “policy-driven and not linked to the monsoon”.
“Monsoon is only relief, it is no solution,” said Sainath, adding that there are many reasons for droughts in the country which range from hydrological reasons to commercialisation of water.
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While talking about his visit to the source of Krishna and Godavari river to ascertain “what has gone wrong” with the ongoing water crisis in Maharashtra, Sainath said the source of the Krishna in Satara and the source of Godavari river in Ram Konda Ghat are drying up. He attributed the water crisis in regions such as Marathwada to rampant concretisation around river source areas and subsequent drying up of streams
“The government has concretised the whole area around Ram Konda. Every day, water tankers are brought to pour water into the river. Even across the banks of the Krishna, there has been large-scale deforestation and concretisation,” he said.
Calling the crisis a “lifestyle” one, Sainath said the three districts in Maharashtra — Mumbai, Thane and Pune — get 53 per cent of Maharashtra’s drinking water when they have only a third of the entire state’s population. He added that in Maharashtra alone, there are 24 beer companies which pay 4-5 paise per litre for water when compared to the locals who pay Re 1 for a litre.
“There has been increasing commercialisation of water… Is water a human right or a commodity? What are the priorities? We need water for drinking, cooking and sanitation… and then comes other things. Interest of common people comes last,” said Sainath.