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Need to see river conflicts differently: Sunita Narain

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Asserting that there is a need to see river conflicts "differently", environmentalist Sunita Narain today said the solution to the Cauvery river water sharing issue requires the farmers to reduce use of water and the cities to become water efficient.

The row over Cauvery has exacerbated in the last few years because farmers of Tamil Nadu in the Cauvery delta which is famous for growing rice, started growing summer rice which was never part of the tradition, she said.

"With water availability, you start growing summer rice which leads to an increased demand at a time when water is even more scarce. That would have been okay if the neighbouring part which is Karnataka also did not start growing both rice in summer, but also farmers started growing sugarcane," Narain said.

"So on both ends you have these extremely high water-consuming crops. The second thing is that you have cities demanding the same water as well.

"Bangalore for instance has a Cauvery 4 project and a large part of its water - 1,2,3,4 comes from Cauvery," she said during Facebook Live interaction organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on the Cauvery imbroglio.

Today there is Cauvery water tribunal and it is very clear how the water is to be shared, while every dam that goes through a process of environmental clearance there is a clear allocation made based on which the dam is agreed upon, Narain said.

"The problem is that every bit of our rivers' water is being allocated. In fact you are beginning to see a 100 per cent to 150 per cent allocation of river water. The same thing with Krishna, the same thing with Cauvery. It is going to lead to more water scarcity, because remember, with climate change, rain will become a variable.

"You will have more extreme rains and also a situation where you will have less rains and that is what you are seeing today in Karnataka, in parts of Telangana.

"Bihar is facing such extreme rains that regions are under water, but you still have drought. We need to understand that India's water future is going to be very different," Narain said.

We need to be "extremely wise" with use of water in the future, she said, adding, "So a solution to this problem requires the farmers to reduce the use of water and you need cities to become much more water efficient. This is very critical."

Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have witnessed violent protests in the wake of the Supreme Court's order over distribution of Cauvery river water.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Thu, September 15 2016. 22:32 IST
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