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VAK's Engagement with Water Issues > What's been in the Newspapers > December 2008

"Vidarbha staring at Worst drought", 16th December 2008, Daily News and Analysis

Vidarbha is staring at the worst ever drought this year, with an unprecedented crop failure and steep decline in Rabi, crop acreage due to depleted water table. Adding to the woes of farmers is the global economic meltdown and uncertainty in local markets over the prices of commodities, like cotton and soybean. The 50-year-old is reluctant to even talk about the crop situation, as it "opens up the wounds". Kharif crop has failed, Rabi crop is set to be doomed, inflation wages have risen, and intensive use of chemicals coupled with adverse agro-climatic conditions has belted the soil health. As average farmer has suffered loss of between Rs.2,000 and Rs.7,000 per acre in cotton and soybean, according to a number of farm experts. "People are waiting to die," warns Nitin Khades, a farmer in Yavatmal's Jalka village. About 900 farmers have committed suicide in Vidarbha so far in 2008.

"Soon, more water for city", 30th December 2008, Hindustan Times

The city will get an additional 250 million litres of water per day (MLD) in a year, of which it might get 100 MLD in a few days, if Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) projects and talks with the state government bear fruit. The BMC is in talks with State Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Ajitdada Pawar to supply the extra water. The rest 150 MLD will have to be bought from Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC). BMC chief Jairaj Phatak said: "I am in touch with the NMMC that has bought Morbe dam from Cidco. They have extra 150 MLD after fulfilling the Navi Mumbai's requirement, which they have agreed to supply to Mumbai."

"Yatra along Mithi to revive the abused river", 30th December 2009,

Terror and drinking water may have little in common, but a group of citizens will soon attempt to channelise the collective spirit fortified since last month's attacks in Mumbai to initiate a movement to revive the much abused Mithi river, considered by civic administrators as the city's key storm water drainage system. Photographs and documentation from various sites along the 14-km river, showing the extent of abuse and pollution, will be on display as well. The large-scale destruction of the natural flow of the Mithi was held among the chief offenders on July 26, 2005, when 944 mm of rainfall in a single day caused large portions of the suburbs to remain inundated for three subsequent days.

In September 2005, over 800 commercial units, many of them unlicensed and dealing with scrap and lubricating oil in Kurla, Santacruz(East), Chembur and Kurla were issued notices. Several were later issued closure notices. No, follow-up action from the authorities has been conducted. In October 2005, the Mithi River Development and Conservation Authority met for the first time. While Phase 1 of their project, mainly on desalting and widening portions of the river, was completed in record time, not having a court-appointed deadline for the following phases has meant that the clean-up of the river has made little progress.

"Myth to reality: Saraswati is set to flow again", 30th December 2008, The Times of India

Almost 13 km from Kurukshetra lies the ancient village of Bhoresaidan - named after the Kaurava hero Bhurisrava, who was one of Duryodhana's 11 distinguished senapatis during the Mahabharata war. A dusty road adjacent to the village leads to a yawning valley, flanked by rocks and covered with a soil that is a curious mix of various sedimentary deposits. Rajesh Prohit, deputy director of the Kurukshetra-based Sri Krishna Museum, bands to scoop up some of the soil. "This soil has a lot of history", he says gravely. "After all, the river Saraswati used to once flow here."

Incidentally, the debate about the existence of the Saraswati has been continuing for a long time although lately, most historians have begun to concede that the river perhaps did exist. However, they still continue to debate the name by which the river was known, the route that it took and the reasons for its disappearance. "There is no doubt that the Saraswati river existed. However, opinion is divided on whether it was known as the Saraswati or the Ghaggar," says S Kalyanraman of the Saraswati Research and Education Trust (SRET).The idea that the ancient Saraswati might be the modern-day seasonal river, Ghaggar, is not new. It was first put forward over 100 year ago by CF Oldham, an English engineer who observed that the dry bed of the Ghaggar appeared too broad for a seasonal river. He believed that the Ghaggar was, in fact, flowing on the bed of a bigger river that existed be fore. Archeological excavation of the Indus Valley sites has also revealed numerous settlements along the Ghaggar, lending further credence to this theory.

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