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MNS is simply playing to the gallery: Darryl D'monte

Updated: March 26, 2013, 4:24 PM IST
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MNS is simply playing to the gallery: Darryl D'monte
Is Maharashtra's drought a man made calamity?

Is Maharashtra's drought a man made calamity? Environmentalist Darryl D'monte joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.

Q. Why have so many NGOs which are into environment can't speak against rapid industrialisation or they are for corporate interest only. Asked by: Hitesh

A. They have spoken out against rapid industrialisation -- India Against Corruption and Jan Manch for eg, but we always need to have an alternative, which is difficult.

Q. How can NGREGA and other employment schemes being run at village level be used to avert current man made drought situation? Asked by: BSG

A. By "drought-proofing" villages -- making them store water when it falls, NREGA can be used to build such assets. These also need to be annually repaired, so it will amount to permanent work.

Q. Can tough laws keep our environment safe from humans? Asked by: Arun SK

A. Yes, but it is humans who have to enforce them so it's a vicious cycle!

Q. Can droughts occur due to man made structures and foot prints? Or is the Maharashtra drought a case of gross negligence by the successive govts in power? How can one avoid such calamities in future? Asked by: Karthik

A. Maharashtra has the most big dams in the country -- some 1821, according to the Central Water Commission. However, most of these either face time or cost over-runs. We should go in for sustainable farming: growing only crops which require less water, which will be a more equitable form of development

Q. Sir what solutions you envisage to avoid such droughts in near future and what is you road map for Maharashtra drought and steps needed to avoid something of this magnitude again? Asked by: Pushkar

A. Trap water where it falls -- however little -- and reform farming practices to ban water-guzzling crops, esp sugar cane. Jowar and other coarse cereals are hardier, an excellent form of nutrition and use only one-tenth the water that cane does

Q. Sir, Is Maharashtra drought a precursor to many more such man made calamities, especially in a country like India? Asked by: Pushkar

A. Yes, absolutely. However, take Anantapur district in AP, which virtually faces perennial drought. It may not have the severity which Maharashtra is facing this year and 40 years ago (in 1972), but such man-made calamities are staring us in the face

Q. How can you say Maharashtra's drought a manmade calamity? Hasn't the government done enough to build reservoirs or dams? Asked by: Justin

A. Between 2002-2012, the state's Economic Survey showed that its irrigation potential only went up by 0.1 per cent despite thousands of crores spent. Politicians -- esp the NCP -- are siphoning off these resources. The choice of crops like sugarcane is a human and corrupt decision. Yet the state has excellent solutions like the pani panchayat system near Pune and Anna Hazare's Ralegaon Sidhi, where water is equitably shared, even by those who don't have land or access to a canal.

Q. Why have we reached up to this situation? Is it the reason that the lives of farmers not worth an attention? Asked by: Abhishek Yadav

A. Yes, it is extreme callousness: since the early 1990s, India as a whole has faced some 200,000 suicides by farmers, most in the Deccan plateau, and most of all in Vidarbha, all of which are in the rain=-shadow area.Drought is partly responsible for the failure of crops.

Q. There are large reservoirs of water in the hinterland, but the villages on the fringes of these reservoirs do not have access to water since most of the water is siphoned off to cities whose denizens get 24 hrs water. Why is this not being corrected? Asked by: Rajesh

A. Because city folks are better organised as a class and can exert their power. Farmers are scattered and do not have a voice to represent them. But the rise of Naxalism, including in areas of Vidarbha, is one consequence of this neglect.

Q. Sir, not only Maharashtra, I think even in AP, large scale irrigation projects have been announced, advances paid and shoddy construction passed on to the people, this is indeed man made crisis to a great extent. Asked by: S ESHWAR

A. But Maharashtra, as the saying goes, "takes the cake". As journalist P. Sainath has titled his book, "Everybody loves a good drought". In no other state does any crop -- here sugar -- play such an important role in politics

Q. Isn't it criminal that no political party, even the ones that stand for Nav Nirman and Marathi Asmita are standing by allowing parched people to migrate enmass? Asked by: Abhishek

A. Yes, they are playing games to evade people. Ajit Pawar was temporarily removed and brought back as Deputy CM: whom are they fooling? Former Water Resources Sec Ramaswamy Iyer & others have demanded an inquiry into Maha's irrigation scams dating back 17 years - to 1995, when the SS-BJP was in power.But clearly NCP is most to blame, with Sharad Pawar behind the scenes.

Q. Why are people targeting India bulls but not homes of sugar barons/NCP contractors and the big fish Ajit Pawar's residence? Asked by: Abhishek

A. You answered your own question: MNS is simply playing to the gallery and letting the big fish escape, because it is too close to the bone. Remember that Raj Thackeray partners Manohar Joshi in the Kohinoor mill development opp Sena Bhavan, which is now facing problems.

First Published: March 26, 2013, 4:24 PM IST
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