Summer of 2016: Water crisis is a reality, not mere a warning from environmentalists

Written by: Maitreyee Boruah
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Bengaluru, May 2: The truth is knocking on the door and there is no escaping that. After ignoring the warning from the environmentalists all these years, the enormity of water crisis is staring in our face this year.

The brutal summer, which has just started, has already left us devastated. With 13 states--including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Jharkhand--reeling under severe drought and acute water shortage, time demands immediate action.

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Media blackout on drought, but 200 farmers committed suicide

The last time TV anchors were screaming loud about drought in Maharashtra was after the Bombay High Court ordered all IPL matches after April 30 to be shifted from drought-affected Maharashtra. That was the only time when "prime time" focused its attention on the plight of farmers of Maharashtra, which in facing its worst drought in decades.

The critics of Indian media say that most of the media houses are serving the interest of politicians, corporates and celebrities and thus issues like drought and farmer suicides don't excite them.

According to statistics, around 330 million Indians are living under serious drought conditions, with almost no access to water.

The farmers in drought-hit states are taking their lives as their crops have been destroyed and they have failed to pay back their loans to banks and loan sharks. A total of 200 farmers have already committed suicide in India this year.

Compared to the national media, the international media is doing a better job and reporting constantly about farmer suicides, drought and water crisis in India.

Perhaps at a time when the government is trying hard to sell "Achhe din aane waale hain" (Good days are coming), the popular slogan of BJP for its 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the media decided to censor everything that is distressing about the country.

No rain and depleting ground water

Take for instance the case of Karnataka. A total of 16 districts of the state are facing drought because of the failure of south-west monsoon.

Ten out of 16 affected districts are in North Karnataka. The worst-affected districts are Yadgir, Gadag, Kalaburagi, Raichur and Vijayapura. With no rain in sight and the state reeling under severe heat wave, the situation is getting worse every day.

To add to the woes of the people, the ground level has depleted way beyond imagination. In many instances, farmers in places like Kolar districts are spending a huge sum of money to dig borewells to irrigate their lands, but to no avail.

Even water level in all the 13 important reservoirs, including Krishnarajasagar and Almatti, is said to be very low.

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Blame game over water

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has come under sharp attack by the opposition parties for not doing enough to ease the hardships of drought-hit states.

However, the data from the Centre's rural development ministry shows that states facing water shortage have not used funds allocated to them by the Centre for drinking water projects.

"The statistics released by the ministry show that Maharashtra -- where the Marathwada region is facing its worst drought in decades - had 322 crore of unspent central funds for drinking water. Karnataka, where about 500 villages are now completely dependent on water supplied by tankers, had 200 crore in unspent funds. Uttar Pradesh had 332 crore parked and Telangana, around Rs. 20 crore," states a report by the NDTV.

Like in most of the battles, the war over water is again a classic fight between the rich and the poor. And like in all other instances, the rich always wins at the cost of the poor.

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