IF I WERE A MINISTER
India is a land of contradictions, a country of poverty Amid plenty. Our climate is a paradox of floods and famines. In some years we have torrential rains, and sometimes I monsoons so much frown on us that we are starved of even drinking water. Even in the same year some regions may have floods and some total droughts.
If I were the Food and Agriculture Minister of India, I would give total attention to the problem of irrigation. Our food situation, yea r in and year out should not be at the mercy of the monsoon. We should have plenty of water for our needs throughout the year all over the country. It is quite possible if we combine the ancient methods with the most sophisticated technology of contemporary scientific development.
Glaciers on the Himalayas are our greatest reservoirs of water, which we should use for irrigation through a network of canals and for the generation of electric power, as in the Bhakra Dam. Where canals cannot reach, we should use the electric power to energize tube wells so that we have plenty of water for our crops.
Besides this, we should follow the most ancient Indian method of digging tanks everywhere throughout the country. These tanks will supply water for drinking and irrigation round the year and also take away fury of the flood such as those that inundate Bihar regularly. When Patna was Patiliputra in ancient times, it had plenty of tanks for miles round, but now it has hardly any tank, but instead a jungle of high-rise buildings which only worsen the flood situation. We must continue to dig tanks as our forefathers did and keep them in good condition to keep the stored water clean and hygienic. Above all, I will persuade the Parliament and the Planning commission to take immediate steps for connecting northern rivers with southern rivers by making water pass over the Vindhyachal Mountains through electric pumps. The water of Ganga, jamuna arid Brahmaputra should not be allowed to waste itself into the Gulf of Bengal, but on the contrary it should be pumped up the top of the Virtdhyachal Mountains and be released into Krishna, Godavari and Cauvery rivers to reach all parts of the Southern India as far as Kanyakumari.
If we can make use of water of Indo-Gangetic basin across the Vindhyachal Mountains, it can be a permanent solution to our food problems; and without this bold measure the food problems of India will never be solved. The cost of carrying the water, over the Vindhyachal has been estimated at thousands of crores. It is time to start the spadework right now and push forward the plan vigorously and rigorously as we find wherewithal from internal resources, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and USAID.
Where there is a will, there is a way. We must have willed to do this job expeditiously. It is a matter of life and death of our country.