We the citizens groups, representatives from political parties, peoples organisations and NGO's concerned about the health of the people and the natural resources of the Eastern Ghats in north coastal Andhra Pradesh, have come together to pass our declaration on
Water for People and Life
We declare that water is the primary life giving resource without which no life can exist on earth. Civilisations, their birth and destruction, have been based on this elixir of life and hence, we declare that in this age of modern human existence, water is the most crucial natural resource that has to be conserved, optimally harnessed by the present generation and that we live as responsible citizens who care for the health and survival of tomorrow's generations.
The rich forests of the Eastern Ghats in north coastal Andhra Pradesh, are the birthplace of many of these blessed water resources that include rivers, springs, streams and ponds. It is these water bodies that have ensured that the region from time immemorial has remained rich and fertile with verdant forests, lush agriculture and a history of prosperity. It is these water resources that provided livelihood to diverse traditional occupations and gave bountiful water supply for the millions of people for drinking, irrigation and other uses.
Water resources belong to the community and the government as a trustee of this resource is accountable to the community in taking any decision whatsoever that will affect its use.
Now, there is a serious threat to the people of the region and their very survival as this life giving source is not only being tampered with, but also brutally destroyed by the very policy makers and the government whose primary duty it is to protect them as custodians of the resource under the constitution of India. Without our knowledge, water is being diverted for other uses with commercial and destructive intentions with not a thought spared for the people and their survival.
Therefore, at this crucial juncture when our people stand facing a crisis for water and where we anticipate state induced conflicts over sharing this precious resource, we declare the following for protection of the water resources and water needs of the people of Visakhapatnam and the region of north coastal Andhra
- Water is the most precious life giving resource and it is a community resource. The government's role is that of a trustee who is accountable to the community in doing anything that affects this resource. It is the fundamental duty of the government and all its citizens to protect this water resource, conserve its sources, and harness it in a sustainable manner.
- Water is for the people - for their primary need of drinking, domestic use and agriculture without which there cannot be any existence on earth.
- We declare that water is a community resource and neither the source of the water body nor the water body itself can be handed over to any person or corporate in the name of development.
- We demand that all identified catchment areas of our water sources including springs, streams , rivers and tanks near human settlements be kept free from all activity except those related to agriculture.
- It is the government's constitutional responsibility to plan and maintain all the water bodies/water courses and respect and honor the riparian rights of the farmers in north coastal Andhra
- We demand that the government take immediate steps to safeguard the interests of farmers in the riparian areas of north coastal Andhra Pradesh from the destruction of similarly placed bauxite hills in Orissa from where the Vamsadhara and Nagavalli rivers emanate.
- The government should immediately take stock of the present status of all water bodies and water courses in the region including reservoirs, rivers, rivulets and all irrigation and hydel projects constructed in the region
- The government should make public the status of the reservoirs and water courses, the estimated, promised and present capacities.
- The government should also make public the water needs of all its citizens in the region- the mandal wise need for drinking water, domestic and agricultural usage as against the capacity of the government to supply keeping in mind seasonal and geographical variations.
- The government should within an agreed time frame come out with a master plan for each water body/reservoir giving current status, future projection of needs, shortages and proposed plans for meeting the deficits in water supply with priority on domestic, drinking and agriculture needs.
- Such master plan(s) must be made available for public scrutiny and audit by establishing independent citizens's committees for periodical review.
- The master plan(s) should take into account the growing urbanisation and increasing urban populations, the influx of tourists and floating population into the region when the water assessment is prepared.
- We demand that the government should plan for any industrial usage or diversion of water only after fulfilling the needs of domestic and agricultural sectors.
- We demand that the government first make public the demand and supply of water to the existing/ proposed industries and the projected needs of the region in future.
- We demand for a white paper on how the water resources are being managed currently and what will be the future allocations considering the national policies on priority in water use allocation.
- No new projects/industries should be allowed to be set up without first coming out with a master plan that is workable and fulfills the present and future needs of its citizens. Any new proposals should be considered only after keeping in mind the existing and future needs.
- Hazardous industries and activities around water bodies/ water courses should not be permitted and existing activity should come under strict scrutiny and review immediately.
- Irrational planning of economic activity along the sea coast has resulted in the violation of the CRZ, to the detriment of the fishing community and others. Immediate action should be taken on these CRZ violations and illegal constructions should be stopped.
- Gram Sabhas should be given proper information and have the right of decision-making with regard to utilisation of water from their respective sources.
- We demand an immediate halt to developmental projects like bauxite mining that will affect adversely the rainfall catchment areas in the Eastern Ghats. Water is a resource for the people and not meant to be handed over to private bodies for their profit generation activities be it mining or setting up of refineries.
The declaration is signed by
Ganta Srinivasarao (EX MP &
Rebbapragada Ravi (Executive Director, SAMATA VO)
Ch.Narasingarao (District Secretary, CPM)
J.V.Satyanarayana (District Secretary, CPI)
Bandaru Satynarayana (District Secretary, TDP)
T.Subbaramireddy (BJP State Leader)
Sobhahymavati devi (EX MLA ,TDP)
K.Surendra (APGirijana Sangham)
EAS Sarma (Forum for better Visakhapatnam
CS RAO (Prajaspandana)
P.Chalapatirao ( MP of Anakapalli)
K. Chittinaidu ( Tribal Ex MLA)
G.Srinivas (Journalist, Dhimsa Monthly)