Voices from Making Water Everybody's Business
Talking about water

Water is bound to dominate the agenda of the country's politicians and planners in the future Though ignored for years by the political leadership and mismanaged by a myopic bureaucracy, there is still hope.

Published: Sunday 15 April 2001

Voices from Making Water Everybody's Business
Talking about water

When I was speaker of the Lok Sabha, I called a special session to discuss serious issues confronting the country. I don't think water was discussed in this special session. We never thought of it. We talked about corruption and criminalisation. Experts and politicians will have to come together at some forum to discuss this. Parliament is not a forum. I don't know how many years it will take parliament to become a serious body again.

Former Chief Minister, Meghalaya, and former speaker, Lok Sabha

There is no real reason why there should be any conflict between the state government and the panchayats as to who should do this job of water harvesting. I doubt there are very many MLAs who would like to run around in tin cans collecting raindrops; there is not much in it for them. Therefore, I would imagine that to collect drops of water that fall off roofs, there might not be any major political objection to it.

Congress Party Member of Parliament

On paper the government may have succeeded. Only recently, we came out with an advertisement saying that 95 per cent of the villages have been provided drinking water but we all know that the figure is not more than 50-55 per cent; there are many villages with a chronic problem. So why is there a gap between actual reality and the figures that we have in our record? The reason is that the sustainability of our investment today is very much in doubt.

Member-secretary of the Planning Commission

In Maharashtra, in 12 years, Rs 3,500 crore has been spent on watershed development but we read that 17,000 villages didn't have drinking water just two years ago. There is no involvement of the people. The work, which had to be achieved with the help of the people, did not take place and because of these lacunae, the work in the last 50 years could not reach the stage, which it should have reached.

Noted Social Worker

Each village is different. Somewhere you have to make a check dam, somewhere a gully plug, in other places you have to make different structures. But we have in our mindset that by sitting in Delhi we can decide what is appropriate. This only creates a lot of hassles in our work.

Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh

There has been too little effort to conserve and make effective and efficient use of the available water. This is, in part, due to the defects in the way we have planned projects. But fundamentally, they reflect the fact that the pricing policies which the government has followed in respect to practically all sources of water, has served actively to encourage its wasteful and inefficient use. In other words, with the current pricing of water and electricity, no one has any incentive to use less water and use water for more productive purposes.

Former Member, Planning Commission and now head of a study on tank management of the Madras Institute of Development Studies

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