CHENNAI: Will deprivation of water, the basis of all life, amount to violation of human rights?
Holding it in the affirmative, TN State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), last week maintained that riparian rights should not be tampered with. According to SHRC member Jayanthi, IAS (retired), a holder of riparian rights, by virtue of having property naturally irrigated by natural flowing rivers, has a right to the natural flow of the river water.
The SHRC was passing orders on a complaint from Dr PS Vetriselvan and two others, stating that about 2,500 acres of revenue land classified as “wet land” has been very adversely affected by the impounding of all the waters of the Kariyakoil and Aanaimaduvu river in Salem District by the construction of two dams in 1992/1993. These are “wet lands” with perennial crops such as areca nut and coconut and annual corps including sugarcane, banana and tapioca besides paddy.
The Petitioners along with all impacted farmers and residents of the region have suffered immense financial loss and loss of livelihood. They continue to suffer from scarcity of drinking water. Absence of river water coupled with indiscriminate drilling of bore-wells has resulted in the depletion of the groundwater table, posing the threat of desertification. The riverbed has been damaged due to unchecked illegal sand-quarrying. All plant and animal life dependent on the natural flow of the rivers continue to suffer, they contended.
SHRC said civilizations have, depended on rivers for their livelihood. Unjustified deprivation of river water that has been available to the complainants and their ancestors for generations, is a breach of human rights, Jayanthi said.