Greenpeace calls for priority access of water to farmers in drought hit Maharashtra

Protests at Amravati where farmers are fighting water-grab by Indiabulls

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Press release - May 21, 2013
Amravati, 22rd May 2013: In an early morning action to raise an alarm on the massive diversion of water away from irrigation to water guzzling coal fired power plants, Greenpeace activists unfurled a 250 feet banner on the Upper Wardha dam at Morshi taluka in Amravati with the message “Water for Farmers not Power Plants”. Farmers in the region, whose water is being diverted to the controversial Indiabulls coal plant, joined the activists in calling for the Maharashtra government to ensure water access for agriculture as priority.

As of 2012, more than 80,000 MW of power plants are proposed in Maharashtra, most of them in the interior districts of the state, creating a massive demand for water from the rivers and reservoirs in these districts. It is estimated that the total volume of water allocations for thermal power plants made by the High Powered Committee on water allocations, headed by Mr Ajit Pawar as the former Water Resources Minister, is about 760 million cubic metres. The Upper Wardha allocations to the Indiabulls power plant alone is 87 million cubic metres which otherwise can irrigate about 23,219 hectares according to the government’s own estimates.

Sanjay Kolhe, a farmer from Morshi taluka, who recently started an online petition to demand that the Chief Minister give back the water diverted away from the farmers was present at the protest and said, “This government doesn’t care about farmers’ welfare. They build irrigation projects in the name of providing water to farmers while in reality they act like partners in a business venture with the companies and hand over the water to industry on a platter. This is despite the fact the Prime Minister has identified irrigation as one of the most important needs to address farmer distress in Vidarbha.”

Maharashtra, till 2011, had the unique distinction of being the only state in India to prioritise water access for industry over agriculture. Further, the State government had constituted a High Powered Committee, headed by Ajit Pawar, which allocated water without any public consultations, in violation of the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority’s procedures.

“The future energy demands of Maharashtra cannot be planned without taking water use into account. The current coal power addition will require massive quantities of water, which might not even be available, especially in drought situations. We believe that the Chief Minister needs to reconsider the allocations that result in a diversion of water away from irrigation to thermal power plants, keeping in mind that lakhs of farmers depend on it for their livelihoods”, urged Bhagwan Kesbhat, Campaigner, Greenpeace.

Greenpeace demands that a cumulative assessment of the water availability and use in the region be conducted on a war footing to ensure that water allocations are not made in violation of the existing water policy that prioritises drinking and agriculture requirements over industry.

Further all the water allocations made by the High powered committee should be put on hold till the cumulative impact and availability assessment is done and allocations should be reviewed in a transparent and participatory manner with public consultations of the people affected by the diversions. There should be a moratorium on any new allocations till the review of old allocations are completed.

For more information, Photo and video contact:

Jai Krishna. R, Campaigner, Climate and Energy, Greenpeace, +91 98455 91992,

Bhagwan Kesbhat, Campaigner, Climate and Energy, Greenpeace, 92212 50399 ,

Nitya Kaushik, Media Officer, +91

Anindita Datta Choudhury, Media Officer, Greenpeace, +91