The debate on whether water should be a free resource or be subject to market mechanisms is an immensely interesting one. Many scholars have advocated that water pricing is the solution to scarcity, I am no expert in the field of water resources, but in my present visits to Budheda and Sadhrana peri urban villages, it has come across that over exploitation of groundwater is a major problem. In our country, ground water rights are attached to land. This gives us the right to extract water at will, given we have the technology to do it. Our Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh echoes the thought that India is increasingly going to suffer from water scarcity due to the over exploitation of ground water. He feels that extremely subsidized electricity is the main cause for depletion. He feels that water pricing will lead to water being treated as a common property resource and improve its usage. Our constitution guarantees right to life, sufficient water is a pre-requisite for fulfilling right to life. Pricing of water may exclude the extremely poor from accessing water and thus cannot be an effective solution from the rights perspective .
Keeping these perspectives in mind, I tried to gauge people’s responses in Peri-urban villages in Sadhrana and Budheda on their views of water pricing. A person I met said that, peoples whose borings in the fields get spoilt cannot access groundwater at all, it’s better to price it, than to completely ban its usage. Further the thought that kept echoing was that “ pakki road pani nahi peeti” ( concrete roads do not let the water seep in) . People said that with further development, the amount of water that reaches the soil is diminishing. A few said that water extraction should be priced for cities and industries, we are farmers, and we can even do without fertilizers, but at least need water. Some said that pricing water usage would be absurd , we still have to pay electricity costs for extracting water, further costs will just add up to our burden.
One day as I was going back from the village, barely a kilometer away, I saw, extreme water logging, this made me understand exactly what the villagers were saying. Although rainfall is reducing, construction that will allow water to seep in, or flow into the fields might be a considerable solution. The solution although seems elementary, but then most problems can get solved by applying common sense or so I believe.