OUR FUTURE WARS, WARS FOR WATER
“We will never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” The veracity in the proverb well elucidate the present portrait of world despite man’s pride of having tamed the unpredictable forces of nature to his advantage, it is the same helpless and hapless man who proves a pygmy before the pounding power of its perilous consequences when paucity to the natural resource looms its ugly head. Water is crucial to every organism on earth. It is a prerequisite for quenching the rudimentary needs, health, food, energy and maintenance of regional and global ecosystem.
The emanation of water is abinitio, from pre Cambrian and Paleozoic era erstwhile, to Cenozoic era, when man made genesis on earth. Water and development are intrinsically linked. Once viewed as an infinitely renewable and bountiful resource, water today defines and confines Development aspirations human, social and economic in many parts of the world.
About 70% of the planet is covered with this essential nutrient but 97.5% is, disseminated over, ocean, which is abortive for industry, agriculture and domestic purpose, so only 2.5% is fresh water ibid; desalination is far too expensive to be for widespread adoption. The consequences of agriculture practices and industrialization, the impact of changing habitation patterns from rural to urban,misuse and the effect of climate change and environmental pollution on water resources amounts to the dearth of water, homes having multiple taps, average daily consumption is about 100-200 liters per person, according to 2003 WHO report, while it is about 600 liters per person in Japan and America. It is reckoned that one flush of a western toilet, uses as much water, as the average person, in the developing worlds, uses for a whole day’s domestic purpose.
On the contrary, per capita use of water in India is about 50 liters whereas it is merely 10 liters in Sub Sahara region. Thus to more than two billion people, fresh water is exorbitant than gold.
Kofi Annan utters “One person in six lives without regular access to safe drinking water, over twice that number 2.4 billion lack access to adequate sanitation.” Thus about one-third of world’s population lives in countries suffering from moderate-to-high water stress, as figure out by Global Environmental Outlook report, while the United Nations has warned that about 2.5 billion people will subsist in areas where it will be arduous to find this fountainhead, to keep the wolf from the door, by the year 2025, such contingency reports give birth to casus belli. Unless appropriate measures are taken immediately, the world would soon face threats to global good supply; further environmental damage and ongoing health risks for millions of people are lacking access to clean water.
In India,agriculture takes 69% of the water availability; industry 23% while 8% is contended for domestic use. Fierce national competition over water resources has prompted apprehensions that this natural resource, contain seeds of violent conflict. The riparian states in a river basin are making aggressive move to establish what they see as their water rights and the government of yet another tries to derail the debate of water shortage with the controversial legislative measure.
The crux in the dispute of Krishna basin is the present predicament of Andhra Pradesh, which used Krishna river water liberally over decades and dispute, arise as Karnataka and Maharashtra began to utilize its share. There are serious differences over water-sharing of river cauvery among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerela and Pondicherry. Ravi-Beas dispute between Punjab and Haryana while river Godavari is at odds between Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, over the Babli Barrage issue.
Even, water is a single substantial issue that mars bilateral relations among sub continental countries. The issues of cross-border water distribution, utilization, management and mega irrigation hydro-electric power projects affeecting the upper and lower riparian countries are gradually taking center-stage in defining interstate relations as water scarcity increases and both drought and floods make life, too, often miserable. More than the feud over Jammu and Kashmir, the discord on waters of Jhelum and Chenab, over Baglihar project, has the potential to provoke the two-nations pushing them to war. Though India has signed Ganga Water Sharing Treaty (GWST) with Bangladesh over Farakka Barrage and Koshi, Gandhak and Tanakpur agreement with Nepal or Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with Pakistan yet the deficiency of water led these agreement not to hold water.
Taking a bird’s eye view over the international issues, altercation between Egypt and Sudan over Nile was not yet resolved when upstream nations as Ethopia began to harness the Nile’s water for their economic prosperity, where Hungary and Slovakia are still divided by a long running conflict over the Gabcikova-Nagymaros dam project on river Danube, Mekong river commission is yet to detect solutions to run into the channels of commerce and prosperity.
This crisis is essentially caused by the ways in which we mismanage water. Freshwater resources are being further squandered due to pollution and misuse. Every minute 1.1 million liters of raw sewage are dumped into Ganga, principal source of Indians. What is needed is pragmatic management such as increasing public and government awareness, properly resourcing the agencies that manage groundwater, supporting community management, and encouraging the use of incentives and disincentives particularly in poorer countries and rural areas, for the development of future population. So, let us pledge with Shabana Azmi to ‘save two buckets of water daily!’