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In the 1996 ninth general elections in India, water as an issue figured prominently in at least nine states. Among them
all, Nalgonda in the Telengana
region in Andhra Pradesh takes the cake.
Nearly 500 farmers of the Telengana
Jalasadra Samakhiya filed nomination
papers, aiming to disrupt the electoral
process to protest against the
non-implementation of the Srikakulam Left
Bank Canal and the Sriramsagar-II irrigation
projects, which had figured as issues in
the past elections too.
Similarly, in Modakurichy in Tamil Nadu,
1,029 people had filed nominations
to protest against non-implementation of
irrigation projects. In Rajasthan, 13
villages of Shadra tehsil in Ganaganagar,
two villages of Pali, and one village in
Churu, Barmer and Chittorgarh each,
boycotted the polls protesting against
"insufficient water supply". At least three
villages of Bikaner district boycotted
the elections, their slogan being: "water
first and the votes will follow".
Not a single vote was cast in Chawwa
village in Haryana as its 10-year-old
water problem remained unresolved. In
Gujarat, the Saurashtra Lok Manch
asked all the campaigning parties to keep
off the water issue on account of their
inability to resolve the crisis. Seven
villages in Khedadistrict boycotted the
demanding dean drinking water instead of
the contaminated water that they
get from Ahmedabad's industries. In
Mehasana and Banaskantha too, "no
water, no vote" was the refrain.
A crucial poll issue in Madhya Pradesh's
Hoshangabad district was the plight
of some 7,000 tribals ousted by the Tawa
dam, tribals inhabiting the Bori sanctuary and those displaced by the Itars!
Proof Range. A banner in Allahabad
barred politicians from entering several
areas protesting water shortage. The
situation was worse in Azamgarh,
Drumariaganj, Basti and Ballia where people
are forced to drink muddy water from hand
In Darjeeling, Katimpong and Kurseong in
North Bengal, the battle was
intense considering that drinking water
sells at Rs five to 10 a bucket in
Darjeeling. Delhi too, witnessed poll
boycott threats over water by citizens in
Chittaranjan Park. Truely, the crisis seems
to have reached its watershed over
many more elections to come, unless
effective measures are adopted.