Eco-centric Water Resources Development

November 14, 2008

By Kandula Varaha Narasimha Sarma

Filed under: Uncategorized — Satya Sarada Kandula @ 11:19 am

Kandula V.N.Sarma
Retd. Professor
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Ganga, Sindu,Nile, Euphrates, Tigris and other river plains , supported early civilizations due to richness of the soil and plentiness of water (Wittogel 1956). Cultivation and trade were responsible for the beginning of the settled civilizations. Though man has adopted himself to the availability of water and other natural resources on land, efforts have equally been made to modify the water environment consistent with the available technology and management capability. Gradually people who did not raise food and cattle could be supported by those who did. Increase in this dependence of those who did not, on those who did, increased the dependence on regular and adequate supply of water in reserve for dry periods.
The technicians who built water supply and irrigations systems that helped farmers to grow more crops on available land became critical to the development of cities (Rogers and Feiss 1998). Water management gradually involved the utilization of the water that was scarce and that which had to be brought from distant places or greater depth or both.

2.Water resource development
Leonardo da vinci described water as the ‘driver of nature’. Civilizations flourished because of water and perished because of the lack of it. Water management consists of development and optimum utilization of this limited and precious resource.
From a technical point of view the main problem in water resource development arises out of the fact that the water is available only at certain times and certain locations and of certain quality, which are all different from the required. The problem is set in a dynamic frame of demands and stochastic frame of inputs.
The development problem is expressed in terms of a matrix transformation following Buras (1972). The input matrix Si describes the properties of naturally occurring water.

Where Li is location vector, Ti the vector denoting quantitative availability in time and Qi  the quality vector.
The output matrix (required one) is given by So.
So= q Si  ——————————–(1)

The transforming matrix q is, infact, the system that enables the development, utilization and control of the resource so that the objectives of the development project are achieved (Chaturvedi 1987)

3.Water Resource Management
The main question in water resource management is how to operate the system to achieve a given set of objectives?
The solution depends on the given set of objectives. There are usually conflicts among the several objectives. Some are sacrificed in preference to some others. The decision makers started relying on the universal acceptance of the paradigm that ‘a few’ can be sacrificed in the larger interest of many’ (Sarma 2002 c).
The interests that are usually sacrificed are the interests of a few who are economically and politically weak. The interests served are those of highly vocal urban people and economically and politically strong industrialists.
Generally assured supplies of electricity for industries and irrigation water to the fields in the plains have become synonymous with development.  To achieve this development, large reservoirs and elaborate water conveyance systems have been and are being created. The environmental and ecological disasters, which these grandiose schemes have produced, are coming to light recently. So people are becoming environment conscious.

4. Environmentalism
There are two types of environmentalisms that are being followed by the environmentalists today. They are
1. Technocentric Environmentalism
2. Ecocentric Environmentalism

4.1 Technocentric Environmentalism
Technocrats wish to subdue, conquer, tame and control nature. Through this they hope to achieve freedom from want, hunger and disease, for human beings and thereby improve the quality of life. But one should know that quality of life is a nebulous concept (Rogers and Feiss 1998). Taking for instance, the water requirement per capita per day, 140 lpcd is an accepted figure for domestic consumption in India and this figure is in the rage of 500-800 lpcd in developing countries. Pigmies of Africa have amply demonstrated that 2 lpcd is all that is required for sustenance of human life.
Man when he discovered fire around 0.45 million years ago, he has brought about a technological revolution. But he also started polluting atmosphere. When man started irrigating, fields of cultivation, a few thousand years ago, he increased agricultural production. But he also started making the land more saline and water logged. Industrial revolution of the 19th century resulted in a faster ‘development ‘ and consequent faster depletion of resources and increased levels of pollution. As a consequence of this, the environmentally conscious technocrats of today coined a new slogan that any development should be sustainable at least for some generations to come. They are of the opinion that nature has to be modified for human benefit, through the use of technology and excesses which result in permanent damage to environment and ecosystems should be controlled through legislation and punitive action.
As water does not recognize political boundaries, international policing, according to them is necessary and possible.
In the case of water, the technocrats are hydraulic engineers and hydrologists. Their environmentalism is based on the philosophy that it is possible to find technological solutions to all environmental and ecological problems.

4.2 Ecocentric Environmentalism
Ecocentric environmentalism on the other hand is based on the philosophy that man has to live in harmony with nature and study it in its entirity and take advantage of its features. Nature has waste assimilation capacity. When man discovered fire and put it to limited use, the carbon dioxide could be advantageously absorbed by the plants. It is the burning of fossil fuels after industrial revolution, which caused the production of CO2 and other air pollutants in excess of the local capacity of nature to assimilate them. Similarly domestic wastewaters produced by villages far apart in the earlier days could be taken care of by the water and soil environments.
Development of a region is possible through the flow of energy from other parts (Odum 1983). Odum has put dollar values on natural services provided by wetlands like fish and silt, Joules of energy for Rainfall and river flow, oil yield and fuel, for opening of locks and gates and grams of sediment and coastal land loss. He has also put a value on the energy that is brought (not for mining and bringing the fuels like coal and oil- but in forming them) to develop and maintain a project. Then the B/C would much because would be very much smaller than one. Energy consumption by a population is a good index of its development. Twenty percent (20%) of world’s population in developed countries use 80% of world’s annual energy outputs leaving 20% of energy output to 80% of the worlds population. These high rates of resource utilization is causing problems like a global warming. Bullying developing nations to further cut their resource utilization for global safety is not going to be a solution. People willingly should reduce their wants and should realize that grand schemes do not always give grand results, which they are supposed to achieve.
Ecocentic environmentalism does not consider river water going to the sea as is wasted, marshes as wastelands to be reclaimed by draining and floods as unwanted extremes to be controlled.
In case of water, the echocentic environmentalists argue, that one should look for simple hydraulic solutions that were in vogue and innovate them rather than hydrological solutions.
Before looking at some of the earlier hydraulic solutions and present day hydrological solutions, it is necessary to briefly discuss the development paradigm.

5.Development Paradigm
Development projects with benefit cost ratios (B/C) greater than one are considered commercially viable and projects with large ratios of the number of benefited people to the number of affected people are socially and morally justified. But development has different definition today.

5.1 Definition
Development is the improvement of life of people. It is not just the development of material resources like water. Quality of life depends on the assured availability in reasonable quantities and qualities of air, water, food, safety, entertainment and enlightenment in the order to all people in that area. If people are given money but no means to generate it, it is no eradication of poverty and hence no improvement in quality of life. Therefore money cannot be viewed as compensation for loosing means of livelihood. The key phrase is ‘all people in that area’
As the water basins do not recognize political boundaries, the entire area may not fall in a single country or a single state of a country. Even if it does, different people living in that area usually depend on that water differently. Some may depend on it for fishing, some for navigation, some for farming, and some for power.
It is well known that all large water projects of development are located in an under developed area, resulting in further hardship and loss of livelihood of the local people of that area and the fruits of development go to areas that are far away. This poses the question ‘for whose benefit and at whose cost is the development?’. Rao (1990) an economist describes this as light and shadows of development. He says
‘development is like a lighted candle. Candle throws light all round but some portion below it is always in shadow. It is easy and difficult to understand development. Easy because of its visibility and difficult because what shadows hide cannot easily be known’. We are more disturbed by a road accident, which we have witnessed than by the carpet-bombing in Afghanistan. Similarly many of us can empathise when we see read and understand the suffering of the urbanites. We read about the suffering of the poor high- landers some times. We may most of those times sympathise with them. But this suffering is alien to us to empathise and understand, hence our distorted vision of ‘development’. 
The author of this paper wish to answer briefly the following questions through the analysis of a few development projects,
1. Do the projects achieve the intended objectives, always?
2. What are their side effects?
UNDP has developed two indices to quantify the development. They are development Index and Poverty Index. Sarma and Rao (2001) have discussed these indices in the context of Indian Scenario wherein, the gap between the rich industrialist in a metropolis and the poor tribal woman, who earns wages only for a few days in a year, is extremely wide. 75 % Indian population lives in villages which occupy 95 % geographical area generating 67 % of the revenue Therefore the numbers of average poverty, the average income, GDP and the average development index are misleading. The average income can go up while the majority can become poorer than what they were before the so-called development.
A river valley, sustaining millions of people, may produce virtually no’ Gross National Product’ in the sense that economists understand.

6.Examphes of unrealised objectives

6.1 Himalayan Dams
Two Himalayan dams 60 m high Ichari dam and 39m high Maneri dam, which were complited in 1970s, became silted to the crests of spillways within two years of operation and were put out of operation.
6.2 The Great Manmade River
Along the coast of North Africa, a narrow band of rain fed high lands is the only significant arable land between the coast and the southern margin of Sahara. It runs for a thousand kilometers. The population is sparse. Small farms supplied food for these people. These farms relied wholly on rainfall. Intermittent narrow wadis (drainage channels formed under earlier moisture conditions) and wells recharged by the precipitation from Mediterranean Sea, which is quite limited. Many aquifers are also contaminated with salt-water (saline wedge) intrusion.
In the later 20th century Libya experienced a ‘ 25 years population doubling rate’ due to the growth of economy, which was mostly due to sale of petroleum. Even through Libya uses 80 % of its water for agriculture, it is not self sufficient in food sector. Gaddafi has isolated himself from all the big powers for various reasons and he wanted his country to become food independent, he undertook a project to bring ground water to the coast. It envisaged a pipe network of 3000 km. This project is to be completed in segments between 1991 and 2007 and ultimately deliver millions of cubic meters per year to irrigate hundreds of thousands of acres of land and provide stable potable source for both Libya’s urban population and farms for the first time in decades.
But the cost of providing water will exceed the market value of any crop grown requiring permanently subsidizing agriculture. The residence time of the ground water in these aquifers in around 15000 years and they will get depleted in 75 years at this rate of pumping. It is perhaps likely that Egypt, Sudan, Chad and Tunisia, which are its neighboring countries, will be affected by this withdrawal leading to water disputes. So this project realises the object of self-sufficiency in food for a short period only if at all.

6.3 OMVS
Whenever planners attempt to manage river basins in a rational manner they seem to create irrationality. Organization pour la Mise en valeur de la vallee du fleuve Senegal set up by Mauritania, Mali and Senegal wanted to develop the Senegal river basin in a rational way.
It wishes to achieve the following objectives
1.To provide 800 G.Watt hours of cheap hydroelectric power annually to Dakar the capital of Senegal,
2.To provide enough water levels in the river, so that ocean going vessels could sail at any time of the year to the tiny river port of Kayes of Mali which is 900 km upstream,
3.To provide irrigation water to the cash crops of cotton, sugar along with rice to be grown in the farms of Mauritania and Senegal.

OMVS borrowed money heavily to complete the project by 1987. When the reservoir behind the dam began filling, it was suddenly realised that three countries became so poor with debt that turbines could not be brought; the water conveyance system for irrigation and navigation could not be built.
Mean while millions of people were deprived of their customary livelihood of flood-recession farming and fishing.

7 Examples of side effects
7.1 Irrigation
Water dissolves salt as it passes over rocks especially in the upper reaches of river catchments. Rivers deliver this salt to the sea in the normal process. But when the river waters are diverted to irrigate fields the salt ends up in soil.
7.1.1 Mesopotamia: 3800 years ago Mesopotamians noticed that black fields were becoming white due to irrigation
7.1.2 Soviet Union: Half the irrigated land in soviet Russia was taken out of production within 7 years of the first waters reaching the fields.
7.1.3 Mehenjadaro: Archaeologists believe that great city of Mahejadaro fell around 4000 years ago when water logging due to irrigation caused a buildup salts in the soil.
7.1.4 General: By 1985, 70% Of the fields in Uzbekistan, Kazakistan and Turkmenistan suffered seriously through salinisation due to over irrigation. Accumulation of salt is unavoidable in the long run, in the irrigated soils. But the question is how fast it is allowed to happen? The parallel one can draw is with the eutrophication of lakes. What normally takes place in about a few hundred to few thousands years is accelerated to take place in a couple of decades through the addition of nutrients by the agricultural and domestic wastewaters that are being discharged into them.

7.2 Drainage
Swamps are giant holding reservoirs for rivers natural flooding. They receive floodwaters and attenuate the peaks and discharge back the waters during the low river flows. In Europe drainage was far more important. Dutch were the pioneers in drainage in Europe. Windmills driving buckets drew water from trenches dug in mire . It has also become a practice to construct levees and drain the swamps.

7.2.1 Neworleans: The US Army corps blew up a levee which they built downstream of the city earlier and admitted their mistake of building it in the first place to drain the swamps.
7.2.2 Everglades National Park: Florida receives 125 to 150 cms of rainfall. Southern part of Florida is rather flat and is drained by Kissimmee River to lake Okeechobee. The out flow from the lake combined with the heavy rainfall and shallow water table supports a vast wetland with a well balanced complex ecological food chain that included brown – yellow algae, snails, frogs, alligators and even panthers. In this wetland is located Everglade National Park.
But as population and economy of Florida grew, digging deep canals and leading the water directly to the ocean drained the swamps. The decrease in run off to the lake and increase in nutrients, made the bay saltier. Blooms of nonnutrient algae occurred. Shrimp hatcheries disappeared. Ground water table is lowered and salt water is creeping gradually inland. Gradually once useful wells have to be abandoned.

7.3Flood control
Man tried to control floods ever since he settled close to rivers, by building embankments. There is an episode in Sri Math Bhagavatham that Lord Krishna saved his people and tribe by raising a mountain (embankment). As per Hindu chronology, the present Kaliyuga started about 4000 years ago and Krishna belonged to the end of previous Dwapara Yuga. So this story pertains to the period, which is about 5000 years back. Krishna’s elder brother was considered to be a great farmer. He is said to carry a plough, as a weapon.
The Sumerians of Mesapotamia, the kings of Umma and Gursu and the first records of Egyptian irrigation were all of this period.
At this period farmers began to plant seeds along the riverbanks, where the water flooded out of the main channel and deposited silt. The receding waters left enough moisture for the crops to grow in the coming months.
Floods also filled the swamps and depressions when they over flowed the banks of main channels. They helped to recharge the ground water and supplement river flows during lean periods. Fishing in the swamps and ponds provided livelihood for many thousands of people.
When large flood control structures were built all these advantages were lost.

7.3.1Aswan Dam
For thousands of years the annual delivery of water and nutrients by Nile allowed Egyptians to plant one crop a year and live on the harvest until next flood. Naturally there was famine in drought years and damage due to floods in years of excessive rainfall. To overcome this difficulty. Aswan dam was built in the year 1971. On the positive side the floods are controlled, dependable yield of grain and cotton has rapidly increased and the power generation is more than what Egypt needs. On the negative side the dam traps nutrients along with alluvium thus requiring use of fertilizer and high capital. As a
consequence of this, land changed hands from poor farmers to rich farmers. The second negative side is that on the d/s side of Aswan dam, the saline water introduced from the sea, when the fresh water pushing it back to the sea has reduced, into the Nile delta which is one of the most important agriculture areas of river Nile. Now the valley does not dry out between floods any more and the standing pools of water permit the spread of parasites and diseases.

7.3.2 Mekong Valley
The inhabitants of Mekong valley have made the best use of the rivers flood regime. It sustains 30 million people. A dam on that river may cause starvation and death to these people .The flood resource is being wasted and fertile silt and fish are unaccounted in B/c  analysis.

7.4 Hydro Electric Power
The lure of cheap clean hydroelectric power is very strong. Even environmentalists prefer hydroelectric power to thermal and nuclear power. Most of the hydroelectric power generating dams occupies the best sites. But their life span is shorter than that of a coalmine, because of the rate at which they silt. Mahmood (1987) says that the high concentrations of sediment in river flows entering reservoirs are largely associated with climatic tectonic and geological factors and the sediment yields are largely unaffected by watershed management.
7.4.1Sanmenxia Dam:
This dam built in 1960 has to be dynamited twice and rebuilt.
7.4.2 The dams on Colorado:
They trap 99.9% of sediment.
7.4.3 Lower Driper Dam
This dam is built for cheap hydropower. Instead of flooding the area, if hay had been planted in it and built it later to produce energy it would have produced more energy than the plant. Dredging today costs 20 times the price of building a reservoir of equivalent capacity. There goes cheapness!

7.5 Revenue Generation Through Cash crops
The British encouraged farmers to replace some of their traditional food crops such as millet with cash crops like wheat, cotton, sugar and indigo, and rice with tobacco, which were in strong demand in their country. India exported wheat to England in the famine year of 1876-77 for money and Ethiopia exported corn to produce beef in USA resulting in the starvation of its people late 1980′s.
Cash crops are very water thirsty. The water that can irrigate 1ha of sugar cane, sustains
5 ha of rice or 10 ha of wheat or 30 hectares of millet.
Large dams, big reservoirs and long water- carrying -canal systems are all planned to help cultivate cash crops. Benefit-Cost ratios justifying the development projects include monies to be earned through the cash crops. The bumper crop of coffee seeds all over the world led to ethnic strife and great human suffering in countries like Brazil and Rwanda (Roger and Feiss 1998) and require constant supply of required water and nutrients. They also have to be protected by pesticides and insecticides. The suicides committed by cotton growers of Andhra pradesh (India) show how pesticides let them down.

7.6 Ground water and its conjunctive use
Of the 1.4×109 Km3of global water 97.3% is present in oceans and 2.1% in polar ice caps. Fresh surface and atmospheric waters together constitute about 0.01%. Ground water accounts for 0.59% (Sarma 2002 a, b).
As the surface water sources are becoming scarce people are turning into ground water. Ground water is a natural choice because it is available to the farmer when and the extent to which, it is required, without the governmental assistance.1970′s are declared as the decade of ground water. Several studies were undertaken to study the conjunctive use of surface and ground water during that water. A study undertaken by Sridharan (1980) on’ Vedavath river basin’ is one such. By 90′s it has started becoming clear that ground water was being over exploited and there were many side effects

7.6.1 Israel
Every year Israel has been pumping 200 Mm3more water than that had been going into the aquifer. In its natural state, the water table in the coastal aquifer is 3 to 5m above sea level, checking the salt-water intrusion. But now the water table is below the sea level causing salinity intrusion into the coastal
aquifer. Some damage due to salinity intrusion may be irreversible. The salty water may disintegrate the sand stone rocks of the aquifer causing the blocking of flows.

7.6.2 Libya: This case already been discussed in 6.2
7.6.3 Ogalla (USA)
The Ogalla aquifer of mid west USA is fast drying out, as the pumping is about 100 times that of recharge.

7.7River Training
Until a few decades back engineers believed that rivers can be trained to behave in a particular way. But gradually they realized that it is beyond the human power to control nature. It is worth reminding ourselves of what Francis Bacon said long ago. He said ” We can not control nature without obeying it”.
Mark Twain added” Ten thousand river commissions with all the power in world at their back can not train that lawless stream. They cannot say to it, ‘Go here’ ‘ Go there’ and make it obey.
The desire to train a river stems from human frustration with the imposition of nature on economic progress and the increasing ability of the engineers to modify it to suit their requirement at a particular location though for a short time span. There are many examples of the long-term failures.

   7.7.1 Rhine:
At the start of the nineteenth century Rhine used to take a tortuous path for most of its length. It used to branch off into two streams on the downstream side. These two branches used to shift their courses periodically. This came in the way of navigation. So upper Rhine was’ trained’, to flow in a single channel with shortest length to the sea. Because of this the velocities have increased by 30% resulting in scouring of the bed and banks. At Basel the bed fell by 7m. At Ruhi port it fell by 4m and the port head to be rebuilt. The water surface elevation also fell. As a consequence for several km on either side, forests or wells draied out. The river is still being meddled with.

   7.7.2 Mississippi cutoff:
A cutoff was introduced in the river Mississippi to provide easy transport of logs. But this resulted in the river water taking gradually another short cut to the sea, instead of this intended, through Atchfalya, thus reducing the flow in the developed channel.

   7.7.3 Ganga Bridge;
A bridge has been built on Ganga on a ‘trained ‘ portion. But Ganga chose to wash it off and flow around it. Rogers of Harward University says ‘ No embankments on river training works in the world can control these forces (of floods) if they are taken head on’.
So the environmentalists say that the nature is defied rather than trained, bludgeoned rather than managed (Pearce, 1992)

7.8Large dams
There are about 3600 large dams with height greater than 15m and 100 super dams with height greater than 150m. 75% of the super dams have been built only during the last 50 years.
Dams have become a means to exploit a common resource by the powerful. Dams are damaging the states of natural equilibrium that results from, millions of years of evolution. They are exceeding the adaptation capacity of the environmental system.
The problems of siltation of reservoirs, submergence of valuable forestland, salinity intrusion, trapping of the nutrients and water logging have already been discussed.
So herein the attention will be drawn to the problems of human displacement and water disputes.


7.8.1 Human displacement
World commission on large dams in its report (2001) has said that 40 % of the displaced people by construction of large dams were not still rehabilitated.
In India one-third of the tribal population is uprooted .The uprooted population (30-40 million) is approximately 3 to 4 % of Indias population. The sacrifiers have been all the time the tribals and benefits always went to people in plain and industries in cities. The development projects are usually
located in tribal areas but the tribals are not the recipients of the fruits. According to the ministry of Rural development, the tribals have been alienated from one million acres of land till November 1999. The percentage rehabilated is insignificant (Sarma 2000 c, e) SCIP:
South Chad Irrigation Project takes water from the lake Chad and irrigates 670sqkm of empty scrub to grow rice, wheat and cotton. But the scrub was not really empty. 55000 families were growing drought -resistant crop there, which is particularly suited to that soil. They were evacuated. Now 3 decades after the development project the fields are permanently dry and largely barren. Indian scenario (Sarma 2000 d, e)
Sardar Sarovar Project:
Narmada Valley Development authority (NVDA) is building the Sardar Sarovar project on the Narmada River. Narmada river Valley spreads over Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra and Gujarat. 43000 thousand families have been ousted by this project. The water dispute Tribunal (NWDT) tried to dispose of the problem by paying cash compensation. Narmada Bachao Andolan has emerged, as the votary well over a decade ago and as a consequence to its efforts, the subgroup of Narmada Control Authority recommended the compensation should include land. In October 2000 Supreme Court had given strict guidelines on resettlement and rehabilitation (Hindu, Feb 13,2002). In spite of that, nothing has been done and the state Governments wish to wash off their hands by awarding cash compensation.
The adivasis in the Satpura ranges who have been affected by the Sardar Sarovar project are in a precarious state. Between 1994 and 1996, the Maharastra Government had distributed between Rs 25000 to Rs 50000 to some of the ousters. Never had the Adivasis so much money they spent it or liquor.

Rihand dam
       In 1996, 98 families were found fighting in Mithini and Khairi, their second displacement. When Rihand dam was built, these people opted for 10 acres of land in Mithini and Khairi for the 30 acres they owned in the villages submerged and shifted. Once again they were asked to vacate when NTPC wanted to construct 1500 acre-ash dyke at their new places of residence.
Legislation and Implementation:
The democratic government of India depends largely on the bureaucratic and legal system developed by the colonial rulers to suit their interest. The land acquisition act of 1894 is a typical one (Sarma & Nageswara Rao 2001). It says the government can acquire an individual’s property for public good provided it compensates the loss to the individual.  Not only what is public good is decided by the government but also the amount of compensation The law has been amended since then. The individual can contest the compensation amount he receives. The amendment helped only the rich who have a political clout and can afford to pay for legal battles against an all-powerful ‘state’.

7.8.2 Fear of dam Breaks.
People living on the downstream of a dam always live in fear of the event of dam break.   So they oppose the construction of the dam from the beginning. Tehri dam. (Rama prasad 2002)
The Tehri dam is being built in the Himalayas across Bhagirathi, a tributary is Ganga. It is the first storage project in the Ganga Valley consisting of a 260.5m earth and rock fill dam. The dam is in a seismically active region and its structural failure due to earthquake could inflict considerable damage downstream. This is the main cause of the opposition of people living in that valley, though initially it was on the issue of displaced people. from Danube:
The canal from Danube would carry 5000 cusecs of the river flow, through a 20 km journey to a dam at the village called Gabeikovo, where the water would drive turbines. The canal has, in some places, 17m high towering banks, within a few meters of many homes. In case of the failure of the bank, the wave front rushes with a celerity of . where h is the height above the ground.

   7.8.3River Disputes
Waters of common rivers become increasingly responsible for political intrigue   Dams of Euphrates: Dams on Euphrates have led to tensions between, Syria,                   
Turkey and Iraq.

   7.83.2 The Aswan Dam. (Pearce 1992)
Egypt had initially had an upper hand in controlling Nile waters through the construction of the Aswan Dam. Then it had to concede that Sudan also has a right over Nile waters. Less than a generation after Nasser had announced that Nile was now in Egypt’s hands, Ghali admitted, that the national security, which is based on the waters of Nile, is in the hands of eight other African countries including Ethiopia.   Today each country takes active interest in the politics of the other countries
Not only there are water disputes among neighboring countries but also between neighboring states in a country. The Owens Valley Water War :  (Rogers and Feiss 1998)
Los Angels has 9 million people but receives about 60 cms of rainfall each year from a small number of heavy storms. It is a desert basin. The adjacent San Fernando Valley is one of the richest agricultural regions of the world. The people and farms need water more than that is available locally. Los Angel’s aqueduct system, hundred of kilometers of pipelines, siphons, reservoirs and channels bring water from surrounding area. The construction of the aqueduct pitted Los Angels against local farmers in Owens Valley. A bloodless ‘Water War’ was waged by the farmers of Owens Valley. At various times the portions of the aqueduct were blasted with dynamite. At one time a politician was kidnapped. Kaveri Water Dispute: (Sarma 2002 d, e)
Agricultural flourished in the fertile soil of Kaveri Delta from very ancient times. The river starts as Tala Kaveri in Western Ghats of Karnataka and joins the sea in Tamil Nadu. A dam was built across the river by the enlightened Wadayar of Karnataka a century ago. As per the agricultural needs of Karnataka water was stored in the reservoir and a certain minimum flow in river d/s of the dam was guaranteed to protect the riparian rights of the people in the lower regions. With the increase in command area due to the construction of the dam, the cultivation under irrigation increased in both or states. Usually there is enough water to meet the demands of both the states. However in drought years there is not enough water and both states claim a lion’s share and quarrel. The fact is that if the dam was not built, so much land would not have been under irrigation.

7.8.4   Some concluding remarks on large dams
Rama Prasad (2002) in his analysis of opposition to projects of Western Ghats states. Although environmental grounds have been advanced by the agitating people, the real grounds appear to be the reluctance of displaced people to move and loose their agricultural property. To Ramaprasad this does not appear a good enough reason. It must be noted, the power produced from these projects benefit the industries at Banglore, which is 300km away and not the displaced people.
RamaPrasad admits that there is much to be desired in the implementation of rehabilitation scheme. He admits that availability of land for resettlement is becoming less and less and makes a suggestion as to what can be done. He says the resettlement should be in the command areas in the case of irrigation projects and jobs should be given in the case of power projects. If not the displaced people should get some royalty. All these things are nice if they are implementable in the right spirit. Where the beaurocracy is corrupt it is only wishful thinking,
Rehabilitation is defined by Oxford Dictionary as restoring to rights, privileges, reputation or proper condition Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R and R) schemes are not so far implemented sincerely and satisfactorily. Large dams remain today an experimental technology in part because few studies have ever attempted in assess their ultimate impact.

A Technology barely tested in the landscapes of Europe and North America was being unloaded on to foreign lands with very different and more vulnerable environments with a reckless disregard to the possible consequences. Dams were built to irrigate already highly productive farmland, to generate electricity where none was needed and to end seasonal floods on which millions of farmer and fishermen depended (Pearce 1992).

     8.Why are the grand projects taken up?
Most of the countries and their leaders consider the grand projects as monuments like pyramids. They are proud to show the rest of the world, these modern temples, (a word coined by Nehru) as objects of their a achievement. Engineers see them as technological challenges to their abilities. Builders and corrupt politicians see them as sources of income.
Two examples will be given for this
      8.1 Yangtze.
Three gorges plan has, 3 declared aims.
1. To protect some 10 million people from floods.
2. To generate hydro electricity for industry
3. To open up Chinese interior, above the gorges, by improved navigation
American engineers who visited the site in the early 1980s flew home unconvinced. They went on record saying that the project would not prevent flooding and land slides; earthquakes or military attack could breach the dam and kill millions. Chinese public opposed it. But the Chinese government arrested the public opponents of the dam in 1989. Scepticism was soon drowned by lure of big contacts. So within a couple of years USA’s consortium of dam builders was bidding for the project. Canada spent 14 millions dollars of its money on feasibility report. Canadian environmentalist who read the report said it was expert prostitution (Pearce 1992).

8.2 Linking of Indian Rivers
Former minister of power and Irrigation of India KLRao who was also a civil engineer, first presented his plan to link the Ganga in the north and the Kavery in the south. The present government is planning to implement it. The scheme claims
1.To permanently solve the problem of drought by bringing in to cultivation through irrigation a further area which is equal to the present net grown area of about 150 million hectares.
2.To solve at least mitigate the annual floods in the rivers Ganga and Brahma putra
3.To add 3000 MW of hydropower.
The Nation Water Development Authority (NWDA) budgets it today at $112 billion at prices of 2002. But they know, it can go up to $ 200 billions (Alam, 2003). NWDA has to complete the project in 10 years though so far there is no detailed project report. It has conducted only some feasibility studies in the past 2 decades!
The first claim that Ganga, Brahmaputra and Godavari rivers are water surplus is raising serious doubts. Because it is planned to lift only 1500 cusecs out of 60000 cusecs of flood flows. How such a small portion of water at such a huge cost can solve the problem of drought and flood permanently, raises the doubts in the minds of the opponents.
The glacier Gangothri which feeds Ganga has receded by over 14 Km in the past century alone. Moreover, almost half of the Gangas waters at Patna originate in Nepal and Nepal has its own plans to develop its hydrological resources.
The riparian states through which these rivers pass have their own plans to use the surplus water for developing their backward regions. Already there are enough water disputes like the disputes of Karnataka state with Tamilnadu and Andhra pradesh states. The interstate water disputes will increase in numbers and recently (Dec 2002) Karnataka has almost disobeyed the order of Supreme Court giving an indication to the level to which water disputes can grow in future (Parsai 2003)
Linking these rivers and building storage reservoirs would eat into the natural habitats of wild life and reshape the ecology of the country with unknown consequences. The number of people who would be displaced can go up to the tens of millions.
Countries with a history of meddling with rivers are now investing billions of dollars, to restore them by blasting their dams and embankments. In the US alone more than 100 dams were removed between 1999 and 2002.

How will the Government of India going to raise the money needed to implement this grandiose scheme? It will be another ‘OMVS’ situation. India will be in great debt without really realizing any one of its dreams successfully.

      9 Conclusions
There are several examples of how unexpected or ignored consequences of large hydrological projects have overwhelmed benefits. With most of the super dams only completed in the last four decades it is likely that the tally of impacts will grow.
In tropical Africa most large water projects do more harm than good, rewarding a few to the detriment of many and the long turn destruction of natural wealth. Irrigation projects in many arid regions grow fewer crops than the farms they replace while fisheries, flood plains and ground waters start disappearing.
From India to Turkey to Paraguay soldiers stand guard over dam construction sites and herd refugees to their new homes.
Stalin, Nehru, Nasser, Gadaffi, and the military commanders of South America were all proud of their large dams. The reasons for taking up large hydrological projects appeared to be other than technical. In economist Jargon more dams can only provide supply side solution to the demand side problem. There are plenty of demand side solutions. The half forgotten world of traditional water systems is full of them. We should know that we cannot command nature without obeying her. Small is not only beautiful but also viable.
A shift in paradigms of development ownership of water and benefit cost ratios is needed and emerging.

The author wish to dedicate this paper to the great ancient Indian scientist Varaha Mihira who has authored Brihath Samhitha (Grand Compilation). In this he has given a good description of a gauge that was used to measure rainfall (rain gauge) and also some ground level indications to locate the water table below.


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Author wishes to acknowledge the help received from Mr. M. Ramesh Babu & Dr. S. Koka in the preparation of this paper.

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