The objective of the Indira Sagar Project (ISP) is to provide net irrigation in 1.23 lakh hectare in Khandwa, Khargone and Badwani districts of Madhya Pradesh. However, the works of Phase I and Phase II of ISP to provide irrigation in 62,200 hectare were not completed even after incurring an expenditure of Rs 3,102.89 crore. Penalty of Rs 118.78 crore was not levied on the turnkey contractors for shortfalls ranging from 16.65 per cent to 96.45 per cent in completion of milestones of three ISP works. Inclusion of unwarranted item of transmission line from ISP, Canal Head Power House to Reducing Distance (RD) of Km 79.80 of ISP Main Canal resulted in undue benefit of Rs 75.19 crore to the turnkey contractor.
These observations of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in his Report relating to the Government of Madhya Pradesh for the year ended March 2015 only reinforce the argument of an eminent economist that big dams serve only to provide kickbacks to the lobby of engineers, bureaucrats, contractors and their political godfathers.
Prof H M Desarda, a former member of the Maharashtra State Planning Board, says that large dams cannot always provide water to thirsty people and parched lands. He told media persons in Bhopal some time back that of the 4291 large dams, 1529 are in Maharashtra, 1093 in Madhya Pradesh and 537 in Gujarat. Yet, “these are the three states which suffer from the most pervasive and recurrent water-scarcity.”
Prof. Desarda says that these dams are built “solely on account of the lure of kickbacks to the lobby of engineers, bureaucrats, contractors and their political godfathers.”
Barely one per cent of India’s annual water resource is needed for providing potable water to a thousand million Indians. The country’s annual water yield from the precipitation is 4,000 billion cubic metres. Still, millions of hapless women have to traverse three to five km each day to fetch a few pots of water “which we elite casually flush each time we use out toilet.”
Talking of the misuse of water, he said that 15,000 tons of water is used to produce a ton of paddy in Punjab; to produce a litre of liquor or soft drink like Coca Cola, or a kilo of sugar or a kilo of paper, up to 1000-fold fresh water is required. The same is true for most of the industries. In short, 90 per cent of India’s fresh water resources are pre-empted by these crops, produces and the “stupid lifestyle we have adopted in the name of modernisation, growth and globalisation.”
Only a national movement for the people’s right to resources can rescue the water resource planning and policy from the “clutches of the ruling coterie which is siphoning off billions of rupees by skimming water”, Prof Desarda asserted.
In the early days of the Emergency, then Minister of Information and Broadcasting Vidya Charan Shukla called foreign journalists stationed in Delhi to a meeting at Shastri Bhavan and told them that as censorship was in force in India, they were expected to abide by the censorship rules. Not only that, Shukla further said, the reporter stationed in Delhi would be held responsible if an editorial or comment or anything in violation of the censorship rules appeared in his/her newspaper published in Washington or Los Angeles or London or Paris. There is no record to show if Shukla’s diktat about ‘anything’ was acted upon.
The spirit of the Emergency, as envisioned by Vidya Charan Shukla 41 years ago, was revived by the police in Bhopal when they swooped on a book store and arrested its owner for selling an Urdu weekly for allegedly containing inflammable material even though the weekly ‘Nai Duniya’ is neither owned nor edited nor published by the bookshop owner; it is not even printed or published in Bhopal. It is owned, edited and published by Shahid Siddiqui, former MP, in Delhi.
Shahid Khan, who owns Yashika Book Corner at Imami Gate in the old part of the city, was arrested on Saturday (August 6) evening and booked under Section 295(A) of Indian Penal Code (hurting religious sentiments). He was produced before a magistrate on Monday and granted bail. The prosecutor and police looked nonplussed when the magistrate reportedly asked them what really was objectionable in the weekly.
Not only the zeal of the police but the whole operation was reminiscent of the Emergency. Bajrang Dal leader Kamlesh Thakur complained at the MP Nagar police station about some objectionable material published in Urdu weekly ‘Nai Duniya’ which was being sold through Yashika Book Centre. The in-charge of the MP Nagar police station promptly registered a case under Zero (which is done only when the offence reported has taken place in another city) and forwarded the complaint to the Kotwali police station where a formal FIR was registered. The Kotwali police took no time in arresting Shahid Khan.
Former President of India Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen (A P J) Abdul Kalam, who expired this day last year, felt India could meet the people’s aspirations only through an ‘integrated response’ to the problems. He said that had been impressed by the ‘integrated response’ to the problems that he had witnessed in Dubai.
He said: ‘When I visited Dubai, I met the Ruler of Dubai. He told me that Dubai is planning to increase tourist arrivals by five folds.
‘Once this decision was taken, I found, that the aviation minister was planning for a new airport and also new types of aircraft needed for attracting tourists. The surface transport minister was planning a number of additional road lanes required on highways. The works ministry was planning the increase in hotel accommodations so that tourists could get bookings without being disappointed. The health ministry had a road map for waste management and a plan for providing additional clean water.’
Kalam said that this was the type of integrated response that he found in the whole government to fulfil the national objective. ‘We have to take the message coming out of this experience and plan for multiple requirements simultaneously for promoting tourism in our country’, he added.
Kalam recalled his experience while addressing the Madhya Pradesh legislators in Bhopal on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Assembly.
Addressing a seminar on alternative strategies of development at RCVP Noronha Academy of Administration and Management at Bhopal, he said: ‘Recent experiences indicate that the economic progress of a few countries particularly the developed countries is due to the contribution of large number of small entrepreneurs employing less than 50 persons in their establishments. We need such entrepreneurs in large numbers in our country for developing and transforming our village clusters into sustainable economic units.’