The Big Picture - IPL and Water Issue: Tokenism or Real Concern?
Recently Bombay High court passed an order not to conduct IPL matches in Mumbai owing to the drought situation prevailing in the Maratwada region and adjoining areas of Maharashtra. The article deals with issues associated with water and to understand whether banning of cricket matches in Mumbai is mere tokenism or a real concern.
As per all the National water policies of central and state framed so far, Use of drinking water is accorded highest priority and use of water for commercial purposes is given last priority. Since the water for IPL Matches constitute for commercial purpose, it is an affirmative action by court for banning the matches which is in tune with legal and policy perspective.
The use of water for drinking and other humane purposes has always been given highest priority. This is evident from the fact through couple of judgements by Kerala and Andhra Pradesh high court which ruled that water is a fundamental right of a citizen under the article 21 of Indian constitution. So it is partial true that the banning of matches is just tokenism.
In order to deal this issue on a larger perspective it is disheartening to know that successive governments have failed to address the drought situation in an innovative way. Judicial interventions in policy matter like water is only a reminder that the executive and legislative is not working in the direction of water conservation by properly tackling the drought.
The second issue that is looming large in this debate is that Maharashtra is more of a rain fed area which completely depends on rain and ground water for agricultural purposes and water for daily use. Given this fact Maharashtra is one of top producers of sugarcane which consumes large quantities of water completely drying the groundwater resources. It is a serious backlog on the part of government in preventing unscientific use of such large quantities of water. Government should take effective measures to bring more efficient cropping pattern so that suitable crops are grown in regions depending on the water availability.
Such an issue requires long term measures such as increasing the irrigation potential and effective techniques like water shed management. Successive governments have failed to effectively address this problem. However we cannot afford to lose out on such a serious policy issues that have severe impact over a million people.
Water is the most fundamental thing necessary to sustain life. Government cannot turn deaf when it comes to water. Short term measures like banning games and supplying water through tankers etc is simply for no use. We need to evolve over such serious issues and try come up with innovative, pragmatic and practical solutions so that the water scarcity is addressed and solutions are found.