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Orissa Okays 13 More Industrial Proposals
And The Coming Water Crisis

By Ranjan Panda

11 August, 2010

Yesterday, the State High Level Clearance Authority (SHLCA), okayed 13 more industrial proposals entailing an investment of INR 1 lakh crore. The proposals include new projects, expansion of existing units and change in locations.  Of these 13 projects, at least four will draw water from Mahanadi (Orissa's main source of life and livelihood), one from Brahmani and another from Sabari river.  

The decision of the SHLCA to give away water to new industries and for expansion of existing industries comes to us as a shock, especially because the Government of Orissa has been maintaining uncomfortable silence over the actual availability of water and the exact amount of extraction already being done by existing industries. We have been demanding the government to come out with a White Paper on it. (Please see our press release of 5 th August which is pasted below) But it is shying away because the reality is different than what it shows.

The figures given by the state in justification of the Great Water Sale to industries are not only old but also about allocations only. There is no data from where one can know as to how much water is being extracted by these industries at the moment. How can then the government go on with allocating to new industries and expansion plans of industries? The water availability in the state has reduced by about 75% in six decades. With the increased industrialization it will reach to a critical level just in one or two more decades. This will make Orissa further poor and agriculture will be the worst sufferer making aggravated food insecurity, large scale distressed out-migration and massive deprivation of the poor people common features in the state of Orissa in the coming years.

Therefore, we once again demand the Government of Orissa to first come out with a White Paper on the exact water availability in the state that must clearly detail the extractions on date by all sectors in an order of priority listed in the State Water Policy; present and future demand and supply projections for all sectors; plans for providing 100 per cent drinking water and irrigation coverage; and safeguard measures in the changed climatic conditions to ensure that the priorities of the Policy are respected, maintained and sustained. Unless that is done, debated in public and in the state assembly, no further allocations to industries be allowed.

We also demand that the current allocation by the High Level Clearance Committee be put on hold till then.

Ranjan Panda

Convenor, Water Initiatives Orissa

Contact: 9437050103/9937561700

Email: ranjanpanda@gmail.com , waterinitiativesorissa@gmail.com

Water Initiatives Orissa: Fighting Water Woes, Combating Climate Change.... more than two decades now!

Please find pasted below the first press release dated 5 th August, 2010


WIO  Urges the Government of Orissa to come out with a While Paper on state and availability status of water resources in the state. The demand comes in the wake of the government's consistent claim that the state is water surplus even though water scarcity hits us all every day.

Sambalpur, 5th August 2010 -  As the industrial overdrive of Orissa continues with signing of MoU after MoU with water guzzling industries, there is no clarity on the exact water available in the state.  The government has been propagating that Orissa is a water surplus state. However, statistics used by the various reports of the government are dated to 2001, from when the real industrialization boom has taken off in the state.  It is time that the government comes out with a transparent position paper on the exact water availability in the state or else water conflicts will aggravate.

The surplus water mantra that the Orissa government is chanting is a ‘myth', says  WIO .   This so called surplus is being derived out of the simple fact that Orissa, despite covering less than 5 per cent of India's geographical area, houses 11 per cent of its water resources.  In the changing context, with rapid pollution owing to industrialization and urbanization, the figures have changed towards the negative.  While there are no substantial records available to say exactly how much water is available, if one believes the Annual Report of the Water Resources department of Govt. of Odisha, it states the figure of 2001 when Odisha's per capita water availability was 3,359 cubic metre (cum) per year compared to the national average of 1820 cum.  Orissa's industrial overdrive has accelerated post 2001 and most of the industries promoted in the state are water guzzling ones.  As such also climate change is taking a heavy toll on the water availability of the state.  So, this figure cannot be believed.

 If we consider the reduction of per capita availability of water in the country (national average), it has reduced from 5177 cum in 1961 to 1820 (in 2001) almost by 65 per cent.  As of current year, the national average has further reduced to 1650 cum (according to U. N. Panjiar, Secretary of GoI) – a reduction of 10 per cent!  Considering this normal case, Orissa's per capital availability must have reduced to about 3000 cum by the last year.  However, in a changed climatic condition, this would go further down.  The IPCC estimates by 2025 the average per capita availability of water would be less than 1000 cum – that's another 40 percent.    Going by those simple calculations, Orissa's average water availability would be at around 1800 cum in another 14 years!  However, with the type of industries Orissa is promoting, this figure would actually go further down.  What is important therefore is to have a proper assessment of the water scenario for present as well as future.

An Asian Development Bank report of 2007, which has been approved by the Government says , “allowing 30% for environmental demand (in-stream flow needs), the data illustrates that at present, the amount of water being utilized represents about 60% of what is dependably generated within the State.  Similarly, With respect to groundwater, allowing 40% for environmental demand, presently about 70% is being utilized”.   So, Orissa was left with only 40 per cent of its utilizable water resources by 2007.

Several reports suggest that water for domestic consumption will only rise on an average rate compared to new and emerging sectors, especially the industrial sectors.  Going by national average, demand from the domestic sector has remained low and accounts for only 5% of the annual freshwater withdrawals in India. The demand from domestic sector over the next twenty years will increase from 25 billion m3 to 52 billion m3. However, this increase in the demand from the domestic sector will not be as much as that from other sectors over the next several years.  In the past several decades, industrial production has increased in India owing to an increasingly open economy and greater emphasis on industrial development and international trade. Water consumption for this sector has consequently risen and will continue growing at a rate of 4.2% per year. According to the World Bank, demand of water for industrial, energy production and other uses will rise from 67 billion m3 to 228 billion m3 by 2025.  In this aspect the Orissa figures are not clearly available.   Looking at the Annual Report of the water resources department one can only know that the industrial requirement cap was fixed at 0.706 cum at 2001 which has been extended to 1.95 cum by 2051, an increase of about three times.  However, this is only the cap and there are no figures available as to how much has been extracted till now.   What is more worrying in the Orissa case is the ground water allocation mechanism.  In absence of any ground water regulation in the state, the ‘assessment' of availability by the state unit of the Central Ground Water Board is widely confused as the ‘allocation'. 

In Orissa, considering the fast slippage of several habitats from drinking water coverage and vast amount of irrigation potential still to be created, the demand from these sectors will also grow making it very difficult for the state to manage the situation in the coming years.  If the state adheres to its own Water Policy, it has to provide drinking water to all rural and urban habitations; irrigation to all crop fields and maintain minimum base flow of all rivers.   The present definition of “Surplus Water” therefore does not include all these calculations. This is therefore not enough to justify giving away water to industries from any source.

The United Nations has warned that by 2025 two-thirds of the world will face severe water shortages if the current pattern of water consumption continues.  Global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years, more than twice the rate of human population growth. At present more than one billion people on earth lack access to fresh drinking water. By the year 2025 the demand for freshwater is expected to rise to 56% above what currently available water can deliver, if current trends persist.  Regions  where renewable fresh water availability is below 1700 cubic meters/capita/annum are termed as  'water stress' region, and regions where availability falls below 1000 cubic meters/capita/annum experiences chronic 'water scarcity'.  Going by the simple statistics therefore Orissa is going to be a water stress region by 2015 and water scarcity region in few more years , we apprehend.

Orissa should learn from these warnings .  In fact, we at  WIO  feel that Orissa will be a water stressed state between 2015 to 2020.  Its high time that the government recognizes this threat and comes out with a White Paper urgently detailing the exact availability of water in the state; current and future requirement of all sectors keeping in view the growth projections and risks of climate change.  Till then no new industries should be allocated water. 

Ranjan K Panda
Dhanupali, Sambalpur 768005, Orissa, INDIA
Mobile: +919437050103
Alt email: ranjanpanda@yahoo.com

Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader