Odisha has many rivers, vast forest cover and it receives above average rainfall annually. But, greed for minerals beneath the land and destruction wreaked by industries hungry to exploit the resources of the state have slowly choked the natural environment of the state. Most farm holdings are small or marginal dependent on the rains for irrigation. The deficit rains in 2015-16 pushed the state over the edge. The state is facing extensive crop loss and severe water shortage. Even after exploiting its resources to the hilt, the people of the state have not been provided with piped water supply. In many ways, the drought in Odisha is man made.
On Oct 28, 2015, the Andhra Pradesh government declared 196 mandals in seven districts, as drought-affected during the Kharif season 2015. The districts were Srikakulam (10 mandals), Prakasam (21), Nellore (14), Chittoor (39), Kadapa (33), Anantapur (39) and Kurnool (40). Consequent to the declaration of drought, the government directed the concerned district Collectors to notify the specific drought-hit areas in the District Gazette to enable farmers to avail credit facilities. On Nov 22, 2015, the Govt. added 163 mandals to the list of drought hit bringing the number up to 359 mandals. This included mandals in Guntur, Krishna, Vizianagaram. Drought was declared in 10 out of 13 districts. Crop loan and relief measures were to be taken up in these mandals as per guidelines. The state demanded central assistance of Rs 2,000 crore.
The severe drought in Telangana has caused acute shortage of drinking water and worsened the agriculture crisis in the state.
On Nov 24, 2015, the Telangana government declared drought in 7 out of 10 districts. It declared 231 out of 443 rural mandals (blocks) in the State as drought-affected and sought an immediate assistance of Rs. 1000 crore from the Centre. All the mandals in Mahabubnagar (64), Medak (46) and Nizamabad (36) districts were declared drought-hit. Other mandals declared drought-hit included 33 out of 37 in Ranga Reddy, 19 of 57 in Karimnagar, 22 of 59 in Nalgonda, and 11 of 51 in Warangal. None of the mandals in Adilabad (52) and Khammam (41) districts were on the list.
A lot has been happening with waters of Godawari on Maharashtra-Telangana border. Telangana has proposed a series of dams in order to harness water allocated to it by the Godawari Tribunal Award. Many of these projects are being proposed hastily without carrying out detailed studies as well as obtaining requisite clearances like environmental clearance. One such project named “Kaleshwaram Project” was recently inaugurated in first week of May by Chief Minister of Telangana K. Chandrasekhar Rao. The project is being proposed as a part of “Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Sujala Shravanti Project” or ‘Pranahita-Chevella Project’ as it is popularly known. Read More
Above: Red arrows indicate diversion of water from Tata Dams into surplus basin. Source: Google earth images and SANDRP
Since past three years, SANDRP has been raising the issue of West-ward water transfer during drought years by hydropower dams. Maharashtra annually diverts 3324 Million Cubic Meters of water from its water deficit Bhima and Krishna basins into the water surplus Konkan basin for hydropower generation. This happens though 6 dams on Bhima Basin privately owned by Tata Power and the Koyana Hydropower Project. Although drinking water is the first priority for any society and this is enshrined in the National and State Water Policies, there is no system in place to allocate the waters of these dams to the downstream, when there is dire need. During this drought, which is possibly Independent India’s worst droughts, Tata Dams have released nearly no water to the Bhima Basin and Maharashtra Government on its part has taken no stand on this issue.
After raising this issue several times at many platforms, SANDRP has sent a letter to the Prime Minister as well as to the National Human Rights Commission on this issue. If you agree with the points raised in the letter below, please send similar letter to the authorities. Read More
Above: All-India Summer Monsoon (June-September) Rainfall Anomalies during 1871-2015. Note that since 1950s, not only has the incidence of droughts increased, but rainfall in the excess of 10% has also decreased markedly Source: IITM Paper Interanual Variations of Indian Summer Monsoon
When it comes to Global Warming and Climate Change (not interchangeable terms), India and the world have witnessed a series of firsts in the past year. The last 11 months have been the warmest months in recorded history, each monotonously breaking a previous record[i]. In India, regions like Maharashtra including Marathwada have experienced back to back droughts, in addition to increasing frequency of Extreme Weather events like Hailstorms and unseasonal rainfall. Variability of Western Disturbances has increased, which is linked with extensive anthropogenic warming over Tibet[ii]. Our response to Climate Change and the challenges it poses has been far from satisfactory. There has been no impact of National Action Plan for Climate Change, due to the inherent problems in its inception[iii]. State Plans lay languishing for several years, without clear accountability and transparency[iv]. India’s INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) indicate more harm than good.[v] Read More