India cannot afford to fight civil war over water: Kalam

December 14th, 2011 - 6:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Dec 14 (IANS) India cannot afford to fight a civil war over water, former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said Wednesday. Rivers should be nationalised and there should be a National Water Grid, he opined.

Kalam was here to inaugurate a Conference on Agriculture R&D; Trends 2020 organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“India cannot afford to fight civil war on water. Like the national highways, power grid, Indian Railways, there should be national water grid, nationalisation of rivers,” the former president said.

“The dams should be managed by the Indian Army or Navy so that the nation could march towards prosperity. Nation is bigger than individuals and political parties,” he added.

Referring to India’s food grain production of around 235 million tonnes per annum, Kalam said the production has to be doubled as people’s purchasing power and population are going up.

“We use 170 million hectares to produce 235 million tonnes of food grain. By 2020, the land available for agriculture… may go down to 100 million hectares,” he said.

Referring to the 600 million people involved in farming activities, the former president said that in no other country nearly 60 percent of the population is involved in agriculture.

He said even if only a third of the river waters that flow into the sea in India are saved by interlinking ivers, India can be a fertile country.

Later, Kalam said visionary leadership is the need of Indian agriculture.

“Growth in agriculture has stagnated relative to other sectors; last quarter the agricultural sector grew at a rate of 3.2 percent, which is much lower than all other sectors,” he said.

The former president said the causes for such a situation are non-availability of proper irrigation system, quality seeds, coordinated support for farmers for system-oriented approach towards farming and its practice, insurance and others.

Referring to Bihar’s experience in doubling agricultural productivity, Tamil Nadu’s precision farming project and Gujarat’s experience in logging nine percent agriculture growth for the last seven years, he said there is need for creative leadership and action on mission mode for agriculture in the country.

Kalam said that by 2020, India would need over 340 million tonnes of food grain, surmounting impeding factors like reduced land for farming and shortage of water.

According to him, the second green revolution will be knowledge graduation from characterisation of soil to the matching of seed with the composition of the fertiliser, water management and evolving pre-harvesting techniques.

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