Water wars loom in a nation of parched fields

Water wars loom in a nation of parched fields

A Punjab Government draft water policy published last year said the state’s water resources were being polluted by industrial waste, sewage and excessive pesticide use in agriculture. “This can adversely affect the health of the populace and may cause diseases like cancer, skin diseases and miscarriage cases.”

These reports only confirm what local farmers already know.

According to Vandana Shiva, water shortages could split Indian communities along deeply entrenched divisions of caste and religion. ”What we will start seeing is localised conflicts over water,” she says. ”As livelihoods evaporate, along with water, you will see all sorts of cracks opening up in society.”

Conflict is also possible between India’s majority rural population and its bursting cities. “People with power live in cities and, as the water crisis is deepening, what remains is being increasingly delivered to the cities,” says Shiva.

She is tracking eight major river diversions under way in India to provide cities with more water.

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