What the Supreme Court order mandates?
It should be tried this time in a time-bound manner!
Yes, the Supreme Court has to come to the rescue of the country’s water-starved people and the farmers! Supreme Court, as a legal expert notes decides finally everything. The Constitution lays down the basic rules.
But it is the Supreme Court finally says what is right. That is the rule of law.
So, this time, especially after the Supreme Court had given its famous ruling in the Vodafone case, that is that no retrospective decision is right, let us hope this time the government won’t pass any new law to say that the inter-state river linking plan is not within the powers of the Central government or the states don’t give their consent or some other lame excuses.
There would always be experts, both outside and inside the government. More so, inside the government there would be any number of experts and obstruction-minded persons out to create mischief and shovel away this grand concept.
There is a long history now. In 1972, K.L.Rao, a minister who himself was an irrigation engineer (see how in those days wisemen chose their ministers, who, after all were not just ministers but with some expertise in their domain as well) draw up the first interlinking of the rivers plan.
According to his drawing, the Ganga-Cauvery link, as it was popularly called involved construction a canal link of as long as 2,640 km long canals. In those days it was a long canal. Now, even our Gail’s oil and gas pipelines run over as long as 14,000 kms, right?
So, it must be easy now to execute the Ganga -Cauvery link.
Then, later came the Dinshaw J.Dastur Himalayan garland canals scheme. In 1982, National Water Development Agency was set up. First to link the peninsular rivers, then the Himalayan Rivers.
Then, in the 2000s, the Supreme Court once again mooted the scheme. A time limit, 2016 was drawn. National Democratic Alliance drew up the plan and even Suresh Prabhu, the then environment minister; later energy minister was put up as the head of a task force.
Now, the idea is revived and it would send only joy and hope and new aspirations among the water-starved lot of people.
Now, comes the environmentalists of all hues.
We can be sure there would be hue and cry.
But for what?
What happened to the Narmada dam project?
Today, just the other day too, we read that the tail end water in Rajasthan irrigates and supplies drinking water to thousands of water-starved Rajasthan villages.
It was deeply moving to read that so many thousands of hectares found irrigation water thanks to the giant Narmada dam.
Yes, the problems of displacement and the problems of rehabilitation of the affected people would arise.
This is not a crude and rude question. We know well, as ones who live and come from the rural areas and where rural people still in such developed states like Tamil Nadu, there are hundreds of villages where drinking water is a critical issue.
There are at the same time, the perennial problems of floods and drought.
India has also changed a lot since the days of K.L.Rao. India is fast urbanising itself and faster industrialisation would also put greater pressure on urban water projects, clean and safe drinking water is also now a fundamental right. Let us address the issues here, both the needs of rural and urban uses for water, in a more systematic manner.
Actually, this new growth paradigm shift calls for a new vigour in our efforts to take up the river interlinks in a much more broad-based development paradigm.
Our future agriculture needs are also can be assessed only if we make for a new water resources.
Let us start in the Mahanadi basin and link it to the Godavari.
Some sort of modern technological approaches are inevitable if we are able to overcome the nature’s unpredicted behaviour.
We have to harness the natural resources, we don’t mind exploiting the other natural resources like iron ore mining in tribal areas, even the gigantic Rs.52, 000 crore Posco project is to come up in Odisha. We welcome it.
There can’t be double standards in our own personal beliefs and our lifestyles.
One ethics for the city dwellers, another for the rural dwellers.
We know well we are touching on a highly sensitive issue and we can expect the sort of dismissal our remarks would make.
But there can’t be any justification to keep our deprived farmers, in the rain-fed areas, over 85 per cent of our farmers live on an average 1.3 hectares of dry land. What is the future for them?
Is there any scientific approach to bring them under the net of some hope and prosperity?
India is also a land such vast diversity. Our geographical and diverse ecology calls for exploiting the natural resources in a planned and scientific manner.
The North Easter states have their own problems of international river flows. So too the inter-state rivers on which our later-day populist politicians make their career.
The locally viable inter-district river links as in some parts in TN and elsewhere are already taken up. So too the inter-state river links.
Now the all India scale of this Ganga-Cauvery river linkages must lead to a sort of sustainable exploitation of the gifts of nature.
Every wise person could see the logic behind the river links.
The Supreme Court finally decides what is right and rule of law.
Let us hope this time the Supreme Court direction leads to a new dawn of prosperity to the water-starved India.
Image Source : business.rediff.com