Brahmaputra in Tibet

Sunday, July 31, 2016


Water Grab

Starting with "Water Wars" is sort of a cliché. We have  talked quite a lot about Oil Wars and see what followed. Practically nothing! However, we must admit that the Water Grab is much more grave just because of the simple fact that water is not infinite. We can live without petrol but not without drinking water! Only 2.5% of water on the surface of Earth is fresh water and out of that, less than 1% is accessible for human consumption.

No wonder any nation and its  people will be at their selfish best in usurping the commodity which belongs to all.Our country is no exception.

Tibet is the case-point here.

Tibetan plateau is the ultimate source of water for nearly 40% of the world's population!The plateau is the location of the single largest collection of international rivers in the world.Half the world depends on Mekong, the Brahmaputra,the Yangtse and the Yellow rivers for survival.

China is perhaps engaged in the greatest water-grab in history.I have a feeling that China annexed Tibet with the idea of exclusively owning this perennial water source. India also has got a stake in the Tibetan land but our position is weak. Half of our water comes directly from China.However, we played our card rather cleverly.We took approximately One Lakh refugees from Tibet and housed them at Dharmasala with their Head,the Dalai Lama and his Government in exile.I don't think it was an entirely altruistic gesture. In fact it was water-grab masquerading as Diplomacy.

The Dalai Lama,being a spiritual person will accept everything with a cheerful humility, no doubt.He will crack a few jokes and ask his people to grin and bear it!But, how can he wish away the quest for freedom, especially that of the younger generation? They too deserve quality life.The current pitiable situation is not of their making,not even remotely.

The scenario is not complete without taking Bangladesh into our fold.Just as China keeps India at the receiving end, we pass the buck and enjoy keeping Bangladesh on tenterhooks!We must remember that Bangladesh is a nation of 'subsistence farmers'. More than 80% of Bangladesh's 50 million small farmers depend on water that flows through India. Even a 10%  reduction in the water flow by India could dry out great areas of farmland for much of the year.

On top of water-grab, everybody, India, China, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan, all are  busy making huge dams in the fragile range of the Himalayas.A vast swathe of forest will be destroyed, thousands of livelihoods lost and and entire communities uprooted.

Over the next 20 years,the mountain range could become the most dammed (read 'damned') region in the world!