In India they are rioting over water. Is this a glimpse into the future?

Clashes in Bangalore, India over disputes on water-sharing between two states in southern India.
Clashes in Bangalore, India over disputes on water-sharing between two states in southern India.

Authorities imposed a curfew Tuesday in India’s tech hub of Bangalore to quell violence that erupted over a water-sharing agreement from a local river.

Work ground to a halt at many of the city’s technology firms, streets were deserted and stores shuttered. The state’s chief minister, Siddaramaiah, told reporters that he was worried about what the bloodshed was doing to the image of the area, often called the “the Silicon Valley of India.”

At issue is the allocation of water from the Cauvery River, also known as the Kaveri, which originates in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, where Bangalore is located, and flows into neighboring Tamil Nadu. A water-sharing agreement between the two Indian states that has been a source of controversy for more than a century.

In 2007, a government panel established an official allocation system that Karnataka has long argued favors farmers in Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court had directed the Karnataka government to release water to Tamil Nadu in the coming days, sparking the protests. Protesters are not only concerned about water for irrigation, but drinking water supplies as well.

Disputes over control of water supplies are not uncommon around the world. Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have quarreled for years over dams and other water-control measures along the Nile. In the United States, the Colorado River is at the center of a tug-of-war between the needs of agriculture and growing cities.

India is now the latest flash point in water-use battles, which some experts believe could become more acute worldwide.


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