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Monday, September 26, 2022

Water : A Source For Future Conflicts


Of a war that could cleave the world
MAYANK SINGH | Issue Dated: January 5, 2014, New Delhi
Tags : Aam Aadmi Party | Delhi poll manifesto | Water | Brahmaputra | China | Pakistan | Kashmir | Bangladesh |

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) made water an important part of its Delhi poll manifesto and kept asserting that if it came to power it would 700 litres free water to the people. This was just the latest in the continuing emotive political battle over water. In other parts of our country a lot is being heard and read on water related problems. There are political and legal battles on water being fought between states. It is a clear indication that cities in India have started feeling the repercussions.

Then, do we not keep hearing of Brahmaputra being diverted by China and Pakistan dragging India to international courts, blaming it of stealing its water? In fact, between India and Pakistan, water is often mentioned as a bigger bone of contention than even Kashmir. Bangladesh keeps reminding us of the Teesta Water Agreement. Rivers Kosi and Gandak often leave the people ravaged making India and Nepal frantically trying to provide help to the people. Thus even our neighbouring countries have contentions related to water. The problem remains the same in all the countries.
If one thinks this is enough to bring forth the salience of water at the domestic and international levels then you need to read the book Water: A Source for Future Conflicts. There is a lot which we overlook or are not aware of and the rationale behind the talk of the third World War on water will be appreciated.

Water, air and sunlight are the most important resources for sustenance of life on earth. India is facing a serious water resource problem and as trends suggest, it is expected to become ‘water stressed’ by 2025 and ‘water scarce’ by 2050. The situation across the globe remains pretty much the same as there are predictions that water, specifically fresh water, will become scarce the world over.

What adds to the predicament is that the demand for water for economic development, a rising population and ecological factors are important drivers between countries sharing rivers. Riparian water rights are hotly discussed topics nowadays. The prominent example remains China and its neighbouring countries. China has often been blamed for being adamant on trans-border water issues and never consulting riparian states before undertaking dam construction upstream.

Water resources continue to attract considerable attention and have increasingly become a significant feature of the world security environment. A case in point is the current media coverage in India about the diversion of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra River) by China to meet its water needs in its Northern areas. There is so much happening in different parts on earth. The book is clearly a result of diligent research.

This book has covered every aspect that a person would like to know about water-related issues which concern India, its neighbourhood, Asia and the other countries around the globe. The strong point of the book is its details packed in every chapter supported by maps, graphs and boxes clarifying every location and issue without weaning the interest away. The expansive data provided by the author will surprise the reader. Author has appended water conflict chronology list which begins right from 3000 BC and has columns on dates of incidents, parties involved, the basis of conflict, description of the conflict and source from where this information has been drawn. 

It needs to be appreciated that the shortage of water affects food security and the energy security of a country. With depleting resources and increasing demands the situation is gradually becoming extremely critical and a number of flashpoints for future conflicts are emerging.

An attempt has been made by the author to identify these flash points and do a ‘cause and effect analysis of the emerging/potential conflicts. The good part is that in the end the author has also recommended a “Way Ahead” for the consideration of decision-makers of the country. Due to bilateral and multilateral involvement on this matter, a collaborative approach is one of the best ways forward but had it been so easy issues would have not lingered for so long as one gathers from the pages of this book.

It is the domestic pressure on water resources and the rising demand of population which has propped the states and countries into constructing dams and pursuing developmental projects. It is here that information and data, if shared, would help in building confidence and in resolving issues related to this very important natural resource. This is a book that all those who are exercised over the depletion of water resources would do well to add to their shelves.

Author:  A K Chaturvedi Vij
Edition: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-93-82652-06-9
Pages: 205
Price: Rs 995

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017