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Why a bountiful harvest drove farmers to despair and anger

IndiaSpend reports: A plentiful harvest in 2016 and imports drive some prices down 63%. A shortage of cash because of demonetisation. Despite Rs 3.5 lakh crore– invested over six decades to 2011, more than half of all farms depend on rains. These are the three factors agitating India’s 90 million families who depend on farming.

It’s a farmers’ movement in Maharashtra, not a strike

From The Tribune: Two developments seemed to have triggered the current protest. On the one hand, bumper crops have led to crashing down of crop prices for the farmer. On the other hand, the crop loan waiver announced by the newly elected BJP government in UP has reminded the famers of their long unfulfilled demand.

How the disastrous Ken-Betwa link project endangers India’s tigers, rivers and mountains

Ken-Betwa river-linking project, if realised, will destroy livelihoods and ecology, including a portion of the Panna Tiger Reserve. Curiously enough, ground reports show that farmers in the project area are themselves not keen on it. Also included is a documentary, ‘Links of a Broken Chain’, as well as a detailed technical analysis of the project.

Ground Report: India’s slow but sure shift away from coal

Keith Schneider writes: It is almost impossible for a single place to embody the full array of emerging factors around climate, carbon, water, finance, culture and cleaner technology that have utterly changed how India and the world view the value and risks of coal. But if such a place exists, it’s Vilambur in Tamil Nadu.

How Bidar beat back the drought

From The Hindu: Bidar’s Naubad karez, or tunnel wells, are an ancient engineering marvel. It’s a complex system, which works inversely underground to leverage gravity — that is, the plateau’s natural gradient ascends from the mouth to the mother well but the tunnel underneath has been cut to descend from the mother well to the mouth.

How come Bangalore doesn’t give an inkling of the severe drought in its backyard?

Devinder Sharma writes: The development process is so designed that cities have been made drought proof over the years… Life in the mega city does not even provide an inkling of a severe drought prevailing everywhere in the state, where as many as 139 of the 176 taluks have been declared drought hit this year.

Yogendra Yadav: Tamil Nadu’s drought is also a policy-induced disaster

From The Tribune: The drought has affected 21 of the 32 districts, including the ‘rice bowl’ area of the Cauvery delta, where we travelled. Farmers’ distress was visible everywhere. This is not just a natural disaster. Our travel made it clear that a good deal of farmers’ distress is due to man-made or policy-induced disaster.

Worst drought in 140 years leads to farmer deaths, riots, policy impasse in Cauvery Delta

Keith Schneider reports: The thickening chain of death and sorrow in the Cauvery Delta, formed from the powerful links of water, agricultural, and industrial policy, is bludgeoning Tamil Nadu. The human toll, counted in the escalating numbers of shattered hearts, is a disturbing measure of how extravagant, water-consuming development practices no longer fit environmental conditions.

Drought in South India: A Firstpost special series

This is the introductory article in Firstpost’s nine-part series of ground reports on the ongoing water crisis in south India. The series will cover various aspects of the near-calamitous situation in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, with the onset of blistering heat waves that are putting more pressure on existing water resources.

This is how alarming Tamil Nadu’s water crisis is

Shoaib Daniyal reports: The theatrics of the recent protest by Tamil Nadu farmers in Delhi might seem odd, but it was driven by a disastrous situation in the state. This country-wide map of water reservoir levels shows just how bad things are: the state has 81% less water in its reservoirs than its 10-year average.

Study: A minor change in your diet can reduce water use for agriculture

A new modeling study published in The Lancet suggests that India’s agricultural need for water can be met if Indians introduce minor diet changes. Research team leader Alan Dangour tells Down to Earth that “dietary change is a potential way to improve resilience of the Indian food system in the face of future groundwater decline.”

The precarious situation of India’s water problem

Hari Pulakkat writes: The country’s water data has been largely hidden from public view, and what was available was poor or untrustworthy. This brings up a question rarely asked by policymakers. If scientists find it difficult to analyse the country’s water resources at the moment, how valid are the reports that forecast India’s water future?

Pumped dry: India’s accelerating and invisible groundwater crisis

From Policy Forum: India is now facing a water situation that is significantly worse than anything previous generations ever faced. All water bodies near population centres are now grossly polluted. Interstate disputes over river water allocations are becoming increasingly intense. Surface water conditions in the country are bad. However, the groundwater situation is even worse.

How to steal a river: New York Times on India’s rampant sand mining

The hundreds of millions of Indians migrating from villages to cities require up to a billion square yards of new real estate development annually. Current construction already draws more than 800 million tons of sand every year, mostly from India’s waterways. All the people I spoke to assumed that much of it is taken illegally.

City of burning lakes: experts fear Bangalore will be uninhabitable by 2025

Deepa Bhasthi writes in The Guardian: The illegal dumping of waste mixed with mass untreated sewage in Bangalore is creating a water crisis which threatens residents’ health–and is causing the city’s famous lakes to catch fire. This is the new story of the city, which some scientists believe will be “unliveable” in a few years.

Environ-Mental? The bizarre ‘green’ ideas of our netas

India Water Portal reports: The year 2016 was an abysmal year in terms of environmental policy and conservation in India. There were also many initiatives worth talking about. Any initiative, however, is only as good as those managing it. Here we talk about four people in the country who made news for their water-related actions.

Himanshu Thakkar on India’s river battles

The Modi government had come with the promise of a better future for India’s rivers. Unfortunately, the promise remains unfulfilled, and there seems to be no roadmap in sight for our rivers. There’s nothing in the policies, plans or projects of the current government that would provide any ray of hope, now or in future.

Soon, we may not have a Cauvery river to fight over

Nityanand Jayaraman writes: The complexity of river systems, the hydrological dynamics that determine their ebb and flow, and anthropogenic confounders such as land-use change and climate change had no influence on the tribunal order… Today’s planners try to spare water for ecological flows, not realising that ecological flows are what keep the river a river.

India can avoid future water wars by mixing old and new solutions

Chetan Chauhan reports: Maharashtra and Rajasthan have started community based Jal Swabhilambhan schemes that give ownership of government-aided watershed management to the communities. “We just aid and assist the villagers in creating durable water assets. The villages decide what they want,” said Sriram Vedire of Rajasthan Water Authority, who initiated the programme in early 2016.

A ‘time-lapse’ view of the water wars, in Bangalore (and soon, the world)

Yesterday, with protests over the Cauvery water dispute bringing Bangalore to its knees, many of the city’s techno-optimists found themselves stranded on its burning roads, like bunnies caught in headlights. It might just be another sign that ‘life as we know it’ is about to change forever, both in India and the world, writes Vijay Kundaji.

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