Open Letter to the Prime Minister

To

Dr. Manmohan Singh,
Prime Minister of India,
Room No: 152, South Block,
New Delhi – 110 001
Tel: 23012312/23013149
Fax: 23016857


Hon'ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh,

We are sure you are aware that the 11th National Water Convention is being organized by the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) in New Delhi on May 11, 2005 at Vigyan Bhawan. Any person of average intellect will be able to figure out that the Convention is planned on a flawed presumption that Interlinking of Rivers is the `good' for the well being of the people and the country.

Ironically, an Agency set up in 1980 to promote scientific development for optimum utilization of water resources in the country has narrowed down on interlinking of rivers as the only recipe for meeting water exigencies across the country! It goes without saying that the NWDA has been working on a "National Perspective Plan for Water Resources Development" since 1982 to justify its terms of reference for expediting 30 river links across the country: 16 in the Peninsula and remaining 14 around the Himalayan rivers.

While the world may have transformed significantly, in technology and in thoughts, in the past two decades, the NWDA seems to have stuck to its outdated "National Perspective Plan for Water Resources Development" that aims at fulfilling the following objectives:

* To promote scientific development for optimum utilization of water resources in the country.

* To carry out detailed surveys and investigations of the possible storage reservoir sites and interconnecting link in order to establish feasibility of the proposal of Peninsular Rivers Development and Himalayan Rivers Development Components of National Perspective for water resources development.

* To carry out detailed studies about the quantum of water in various Peninsular/ Himalayan River Systems and which can be transferred to other basins/States after meeting reasonable needs of basin States in the foreseeable future.

* To prepare feasibility reports of various components of the scheme relating to Peninsular Rivers Development and Himalayan Rivers Development.

Nothing wrong with these objectives but for the fact that past 10 National Water Conventions of the kind have remained repetitive in nature without learning a bit about how indeed water may have to be managed. For NWDA, "scientific development for optimum utilization of water resources in the country" hinges around the "National Perspective Plan for Water Resources Development" that has yet to lose focus from outdated mega projects.

Isn't it deliberate to pursue with such an approach? Isn't a lie told hundred times gets closer to being a `truth'? It is clear that Government is trying to condition its citizens to accept interlinking of rivers without questioning. However, it is difficult to fathom one strong reason for your government to pursue with such a disastrous project!

May be, your government has its reasoning for persisting with this project. There is a word of caution though. The NDA regime did think the same way that infrastructure projects of the interlinking of rivers kind amongst other mega-projects will make the masses into believing that indeed the country is `shining'. However, it is another matter that the same government was made to bite the dust. We are sure the UPA regime will not tread on the dotted lines.

It has repeatedly been written and said by some of us that we are not opposed to `development'. However, the condition being that for any failure to achieve the desired objects the concerned will be held accountable. Do we not hold the mason accountable for any seepage in our house? If that be so, how can the `masons' of the country be allowed to go scot-free in the event of any failures. Although no one has been booked for past failures of the kind we are referring to, your government has an opportunity to set into motion such a system. Hon'ble Prime Minister, this is an idea that will win you accolades, for now and in future.

We are persisting on `accountability' because unlike buildings and other structures reviving dead rivers will be a daunting task. It is therefore expected that your government will refrain from making patently false statements like "In the recent past the subject of Interlinking of rivers has been deliberated widely throughout the country. While the concept is getting positive support of the public, it is also receiving negative publicity from activist groups within the country and also from the neighbouring countries."

The fact is that the Government chooses to ignore facts like the unanimous resolution of the Kerala and Punjab Assembly, which rejected the concept of Interlinking Rivers, reflects its dubious intentions. Did you not get to hear what the Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh had to say in this regard: "Would any one expect a farmer to accept the proposal of linking of rivers, with a potential of taking away more water from Punjab at the cost of his own crops?" But when has farmers been ever consulted in the planning of such projects.

In context of politics of water the development in irrigation after independence, former power and irrigation minister Dr K L Rao proposed to have a seminar which was organized by Central Board of Irrigation and Power in Delhi. The report of the said seminar was published in December 1972 in the journal titled "Indian Journal of Power and River Valley Project". In that report it is mentioned that Central Board of Irrigation and Power had proposed "National Water Grid" to do away with the inherent lack of balance in the distribution of natural resources.

In the accompanying editorial of the journal it was written, "this project is unnecessary and the investment of Rs 2900 crore seems inappropriate. The 1 crore acre land for the irrigation of which the project has been prepared is caught up in many inter state disputes. Completion and Resolution of political disputes and projects under way in central, western, and southern rivers are more important than the Ganga-Cauveri link. Central government ought to permit and facilitate current construction efforts. In comparison to the Ganga- Cauveri link, basin based development will be more beneficial….".

In that very journal worries of water experts was also mentioned saying: "if despite all protest Ganga-Cauveri link is completed, then in all probability the entire Ganga delta region will get transformed into a man-made desert. Calcutta's Hoogli port will get destroyed completely. The continuing Ganga water distribution controversy will get translated into an international conflict".

If rivers get linked there is a danger of nation's disintegration due inter-state disputes. We now know how true this statement is.

Hon'ble Prime Minister, it isn't high science to decode what is being said here. Travel to any command area of some 3600 large dams in the country, you will get to see the truth yourself. It is another matter that not a single post facto evaluation of any dam has been done to date. You guessed it right, to hide the truth from the unsuspecting citizens.

Information is being deliberately kept hidden from the public. If the interlink of rivers is the true mantra for `Water for Life' why hide it from the public for whom it is primarily meant.

We urge the government to see the design of its own bureaucracy and technocracy in fooling the country. Watch out before the UPA regime is pushed down the same path on which the `India Shining' train slid to oblivion.

We would be happy to share with you more details to ensure that wisdom prevails.

Yours Sincerely

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