Sarvesh, a 9-year-old boy, is among the thousands of kids living in an unauthorized slum in West Delhi’s Vikaspuri area. A student of 3rd grade at the nearby Vikaspuri municipal school, he always arrives at the school half an hour late. When asked repeatedly by his teacher about the reason behind his late arrival, he says, “I need to go and fetch 4 buckets of water for my house every day from the nearby public tap. The supply only starts at 8 am and there is a big queue every day.”
Unfortunately, his household is not the only one in the capital facing water shortage. India’s per capita availability of fresh water has dropped significantly to 1,123 cubic metres as compared to over 3,000 cubic metres 50 years ago. In comparison, globally, the average fresh water availability per capita remains 6,000 cubic metres. The USA enjoys 8,000 cubic metres of fresh water per person as of today.
If the World Resources Institute’s report is to be believed, India’s groundwater levels are declining sharply due to reckless digging of aquifers and drain wells by the local farmers, industries and residents alike. Moreover, in most cases, the water taken out from the ground is found to be severely polluted. A World Bank report says that more than 20% cases of communicable diseases in India can be traced to unsafe water.
According to the report titled ‘Charting Our Water Future’ and published by McKinsey & Company, Standard Chartered Bank, Nestle and others, India’s water supply could come down to 50% of the total demand by 2030.
Why is there so much shortage of water?
More than half of India’s geographical area comes under ‘extremely high water stress’ territory. An ever galloping population has certainly added to the country’s water woes. Additionally, large proportion of agricultural lands in the country ensures that water demand never shrinks.
Most of the Northwest area of the country comes under ‘high water stress’ territory. The agricultural habits of the area have a major role to play behind this situation. Haryana and Punjab account for half of government’s total rice supply, along with over 80% of its overall wheat supply. Rice and Wheat cultivation demand high quantities of water. Moreover, slow acceptance of genetically modified crops, which require lesser water, has also ensured that the demand for water in agriculture shoots up gradually.
While there is no dearth of rivers in India, water in most of these rivers is unsafe even for bathing, let alone drinking. The ambitious ‘Ganga Action Plan’ of 1984 was launched to clean the river within 25 years. And yet, over 30 years down the line, we are still making plans to clean up Ganga. The funds splurged during these years have come to nothing since the facilities were never maintained properly. Absence of stringent laws against industrial effluent standards has seen the situation changing from bad to worse.
Areas of concern
Balancing increasing demands of irrigation with acute water shortage is indeed a tough challenge. To achieve the targeted 4% agricultural growth, proper irrigation and high yield seeds are imperative. Uneven distribution of rains across the country means that water storage and transportation capacity needs to be developed. Water harvesting methods can only help to a certain degree. Local storage and watershed management must be given emphasis. Although a number of environmentalists oppose the construction of storage dams, their reservoirs can come in extremely handy when needed. India’s poor record of displacing lakhs of tribal people from dam sites and leaving them in a lurch without adequate compensation hasn’t added to the popularity of dams in the country.
India’s past experience of grain import from USA in 1960 and a peaking population won’t allow it the luxury of reducing water usage in agriculture anytime soon.
The news of Water Mafia operating in the National capital has been reported several times. An acute water shortage has ensured that the Water Mafia’s work blooms constantly. With no other option, the citizens turn towards these Water Mafias who supply water filled tankers within hours of the order being placed. Though the Delhi Jal Board dispatches close to 900 water tankers everyday to the localities without a pipeline connection, it doesn’t seem to be enough.
How to go forward then?
First and foremost, the Government must engage the local bodies and educate them about the gloomy future if such reckless extraction of groundwater continues. Monitoring groundwater extraction is a necessity if the situation is to be taken under control. Secondly, emphasis on watershed development across the country is a must. The efforts of some states have shown that it is a profitable and convenient method to overcome water scarcity. Thirdly, environmentalists speaking against storage dams must be engaged in a constructive dialogue to arrive at a consensus. Other countries have adopted this method successfully in the past. Lastly, the pollution control boards must be strengthened to deal with industries violating norms. State of the art treatment facilities for the sewage would ensure that our water bodies are in a much better state.
India’s water crisis has been in the making for a number of decades now. Expecting it to avert within a few years would be impractical. But taking the first few steps would surely get us moving in the right direction.
New Delhi, Nov 4: Lauding India’s increasing per capita income, World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva on Saturday said she has no doubt that India will be a high-middle income country by 2047 when it completes its centenary year of independence.
“In the last three decades, India’s per capita income has quadrupled. I have no doubt India when it hits its century of independence in 2047, will be a high-middle income country,” Georgieva said while addressing India’s Business Reforms conference at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra here.
Georgieva praised India for its sudden jump of 30 ranks in 2017, the biggest leap ever, in the history of the ease of doing business.
“We are here to celebrate a very impressive achievement. In 15 years of the history of the ease of doing business, such a jump of 30-ranks in one year is very rare. In cricket, I understand that hitting a century is a big milestone.”
Even after 70 years of Pakistan’s creation, Balochistan refuses to associate itself as a part of the country
Pakistan’s military occupation of Balochistan began in 1948 before which the province had existed as an independent state
The insurgency in Balochistan traces its roots in ethnic nationalism along with feelings of political and economic exclusion
Balochistan, August 31, 2017 : Located in the South West of Pakistan, the Balochistan province of Pakistan constitutes nearly 45 per cent of the country’s territory. However, even after 70 years of Pakistan’s creation, the people of the province refuse to associate themselves with Pakistan or its framework of a nation state. They believe they have been Balochis for over three thousand years, who have now been invaded.
“It is freedom struggle,” believes activist Naela Quadri Baloch like many other Baloch nationalists. According to her, Balochistan had been occupied by Pakistan in 1948 and “ever since we have been fighting against Pakistan to free ourselves”, she believes.
What can I say on the day of #EnforcedDisappearance. I have lived a witness of the sufferings of my people waiting days, months and years.
In 2016 during an interview with The Times of India, the women’s leader and activist Naela Quadri Baloch had asserted that Pakistan is not interested in Kashmiris but specifically in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir for its desire to control the Indus river system. Similarly, it is also not interested in the Balochis, but the land of the state for its strategic location and mineral reserves.
Baloch nationalists assert that Pakistan’s economy is dependent on loans from the IMF, World Bank and the Western countries that are allegedly taken on the pretext of Balochistan’s rich mineral resources. They further claim that Pakistan’s strategic importance is also due to Balochistan coast. Pakistan would not be able to survive, which is why it does not want Balochistan to emerge as an independent state.
While the world views it as an insurgency movement, Balochis address their protests as a freedom struggle to liberate and unify their people and land from control of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.
They maintain that Balochistan was never a part of India or Pakistan and it had always been an independent country.
Balochistan At The Time Of Partition
Balochistan comprises of four erstwhile princely states – Kalat, Kharan, Lasbela and Makran, that had been unified by Naseer Khan, the Khan of Kalat.
During the British rule, the province was divided into British Balochistan (25 per cent) and Native Balochistan, occupying 75 per cent of the total territory with people pledging adherence to Naseer Khan.
Immediately following partition and the creation of Pakistan, Khan’s descendant, Mir Ahmed Yaar Khan was faced with three options – independence, or accession to either India or Pakistan. He decided upon independence, following which a communiqué was released on August 11, 1947 giving independent sovereign status to Kalat.
However, by October 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah mooted Kalat to formally join the state of Pakistan. The Khan of Kalat did not agree to the accession which was followed by a standstill between the two leaders upon the status of present-day Balochistan.
Becoming A Part Of Pakistan
By April 1948, the Pakistan army moved into the province and captured Kalat. The Khans’ attempts of an armed campaign against the Pakistan army went futile and the province was merged with Pakistan by June 1948.
At the center of Balochistan’s forced accession was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who had previously been hired by the Khans for his legal services to negotiate Kalat’s independent status with the Britishers.
Before partition, Jinnah had successfully mooted an ‘Independent Status’ of Kalat for which he was graciously awarded with gold. But, Balochistan breathed as a free country only from August 1947 to March 1948, after which Jinnah breached trust and betrayed the Khan, forcing the Pakistani invasion and eventual accession of Kalat.
Surprisingly, during the struggle and annexation of present-day Balochistan, the Indian Congressmen, Mahatma Gandhi or the then-Governor General Lord Mountbatten made no attempts to hinder in the remonstration. This indifference can be attributed to the Indian leaders’ failure to realize the strategic implication of a sovereign Balochistan at the time.
A Growing Ethnic Nationalism
Following the formation of Pakistan, distorted power relations existed among different Muslim ethnicities. Additionally, unchallenged power was exercised by Punjabis who comprised of about 56 per cent population of the state.
In 1954, the One Unit scheme was launched by the federal government of Pakistan to merge the four existing provinces of West Pakistan (Khyber-Pakhtunkawa, Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab) to form a homogeneous, united political entity in an attempt to,
Forge national unity on basis of Islam and geography
Reduce gross expenditure
Help eliminate ethnic prejudices.
The move triggered violence throughout the country and especially in Balochistan, wherein this was interpreted as a strategy to establish Punjabi domination.
Balochistan rose against the move, which came to an end in 1970 with the overthrow of the One Unit scheme.
However, following the rebellion, a strong sense of nationalism, propounding larger political autonomy and a separate state for Balochistan broke a full-fledged insurgency from 1973 to 1977; over 80,000 personnel were deployed to quell the rebellion.
Armed struggle to achieve separation from Pakistan lasted throughout the 1970s, in which 3,300 army personnel and 5,300 Balochis were killed. However, the Pakistani government successfully compressed the movement.
Baloch nationalists have repeatedly argued that they are yet to receive any benefit from the development projects that have been initiated by the government in Balochistan.
Reportedly, the Sui Gas Field in Balochistan caters to most urban households in the country. Despite producing about 45 per cent of gas for Pakistan, the province gets to consume a mere 17 per cent. Additionally, the Balochis get a nominal amount of Pakistani Rupees 6 for a 24-hour supply.
The Pakistani government, in collaboration with China, initiated the development of the Gwadar port in the province, with an aim to better trade ties with Asia, Europe, and US. However, a large number of Punjabis and non-Baloch people were hired for the project, leaving an increasing population of Baloch engineers and technicians unemployed.
Balochistan has one of the world’s richest reserves of copper and gold. However, as much as 16 kgs of gold is seized everyday by the Chinese under an arrangement with the government, which robs the Balochis of major economic benefits.
Despite being one of the country’s key providing areas,
80 per cent population of Balochistan continue to live in the absence of safe drinking water
80 per cent people do not have access to electricity
70 per cent children have never been to school
63 per cent of Balochis live below the poverty line
It frustrates me to see d natives of Gwadar dying of thirst. No drinking water for locals thanks to all being spent on so-called CPEC scam.
While ethnic nationalist interests continue to worry Balochistan, a primary demand has also been about better control over the economic resources of the region.
However, the Pakistani government blames the nationalist struggle in the region for impeding the developmental process.
Political Subjugation By Islamabad
Balochistan makes up nearly 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory but the Balochs comprise only 5 per cent of the total population, making them a minority in Pakistan.
Their representation in the National Assembly of Pakistan is also negligible (17 out of 342) which reveals that the Balochis have lost their say in policy formulations and are forced to adhere to laws that have been put in place for them by power honchos sitting in Islamabad.
Additionally, the Pakistan government centered in Islamabad has eradicated most of the Baloch activists and nationalists, calling them ‘foreign agents against the state’. This can be supplemented with the murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti who was an ex chief minister of Balochistan.
Ever since the creation of Pakistan, it has been evident that the Pakistan government is more concerned with occupying the physical territory of Balochistan, with meager interest in its indigenous population.
The Pakistan army, on command of the government has employed every possible armory against its own people of Balochistan, in an attempt to contain the province within its seizure. Furthermore, army cantonments have been established at Dera, Gwadar, Bugti and Kohlu to gauge activity and movement of the Baloch people.
Additionally, despite occupying 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory, the budget allocated to Balochistan is minuscule in comparison to its vast landmass.
In 2002, General Pervez Musharraf had striked a deal with China over the Gwadar port development as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Baloch people condemned the allocation of land to the rich businessmen of Punjab and Karachi and further lamented the unemployment stemming from the project. The move also instigated further violence in the region.
As of now, according to report, all 22 districts of Balochistan continue to suffer at the hands of the enduring insurgency with the tally of displaced people now crossing over 2 lacs.
In more recent times, the Pakistan army took aid of suicide bombers to tackle the ongoing insurgency. On August 8, 2017, as many as 54 lawyers became victims of a suicide attack, which is being touted as a State-funded action as the group included several Baloch activists who had been vocal about Pakistan army’s interference in state affairs.
According to a report published in Dawn,prince of the now redundant Kalat state, Prince Mohyuddin Baloch who is now the Baloch Rabita Ittefaq Tehreek chief, had said that Balochis are not looking to wage wars. Until now, Balochis have not once attacked Pakistan, but only defended themselves.
He said the objective of their protests has been to draw the government’s attention. However, regretfully, no one is paying any heed to their cries.
Dr. Aasim Sajjad Akhtar had rightly quoted in an article in the Economic and Political Weekly that the “ethnic difference remains the single biggest fault line in Pakistani politics.”
The Balochistan insurgency thus, traces its roots in a ripe ethnic nationalism along with feelings of political and economic exclusion. This animosity among the country will continue unless Pakistan accepts its non-Muslim history.
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Delhi Water Minister announces that failure to intimidate authorities about hiring sanitation workers for private property will be a crime
New Delhi, August 27, 2017: A case of murder will be registered against a private property owner if a sanitation worker dies while cleaning sewers or septic tank, Delhi Water Minister Rajender Pal Gautam said on August 22, Tuesday.
He told reporters hiring sanitation workers for a private property without informing Delhi Jal Board (DJB) will also be “considered a crime”.
“If one sends a sanitation worker in a sewer without informing the DJB, it will be considered a crime and a case will be registered against the person responsible. And if the sanitation worker dies, there will be a case of culpable homicide,” Gautam said after meeting between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the DJB officials.
“The purpose of the meeting was to understand the problems. We also told officials that no one should go inside the sewer at any cost. Machines should be used. If taking machines in narrow lane is impossible, then DJB official along with safety equipment should visit the spot,” he added.
Gautam also said that the DJB will train sanitation workers and issue certificates.
“People will be informed to call certain number if they want to clean septic tank and sewerage blockage. For personal properties, workers licensed by the MCD or the DJB be used,” he said.
In the meeting officials of DJB told Kejriwal that they did not have any shortage of safety gear for the cleaning staff.
“It was decided to make the process of cleaning sewage 100 per cent mechanised as soon as possible,” said an official. (IANS)