Water wars

Thirst pangs lead to violence in various states

Published: Wednesday 15 May 2002

fights over water have begun, although summer is yet to peak. Hit by severe water scarcity, the states of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have reported incidents of violence and major protests over the past few weeks.

Women in Amreli, Manavadar and Rajkot, staged dharnas demanding more supply of water in the last week of March. Protests have now spread to Dhoraji and Junagarh. For the third year in a row, these people of Saurashtra are suffering from a water crisis.

In Dhoraji, residents surrounded the municipality office demanding more water. Nearly two thousand women ransacked the office of the mamlatdar (municipal officer) in the first week of April. In Savarkundla too, people staged protests by taking out a 'lantern' procession against non-availability of water. Following the decrease in flow in the Kurnool-Cuddapah canal, people in Andhra Pradesh forcibly took away water tankers from the premises of the district administration.

In spite of an acute water crisis, the administration remains a mute spectator. Says, Shyamji Bhai Antala of Dhoraji in Gujarat, a pioneer in water harvesting in Gujarat, "There is no shortage of water, but only governmental mismanagement and apathy."

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