Sone Area Development Committee

Sone is a interstate river emanating from holy Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh and after traversing a distance of 821 Kms. Through the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhatishgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar merges into holy river Ganga forming boarder of Bhojpur and Patna Districts between Arrah and Maner in Bihar. About 140 years old Sone Canal System of archeological importance in Bihar, irrigating about a gross area of 22.50 lakhs in sone command area of Bihar comprising seven districts , thrives on sone waters.

A study cum awareness march was organised by Yugantar Bharti across river sone from its origin point at Amarkantak to its submergence point in River Ganges near Maner. The journey began on August 26, 2010 and culminated on Sept 2, 2010 . The journey revealed the predicament of the river Sone due to the post plan development schemes formulated to utilise its water wealth by the union of India as well as respective co-basin states. Annual average water availability in the river is depleting and the industrial activities on the bank of the river and its tributaries are causing irreparable damages to the river ecology, aquatic biodiversity and agricultural practices within the river regime and its catchment.

Orient paper mill on its bank not only recurrently damages the aquatic biodiversity including fish world in the river but also remains closed for 2-3 months in the summer season. Upcoming mega thermal power complex in public as well as private sectors around the sone river basin is proving another acute danger on the river mainstream and on some of its major tributaries such as Rihand causing deficient rain in around Singarauli areas at the boarder of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Water of the Rihand Reservoir here has been acutely polluted to the extent that the U.P. Administration has been forced to exhibit warning signals on its bank that the reservoir water is not worth human uses in any form. Impact of the pollution from the thermal power plants in the periphery of the reservoir is obvious and the pollution impact of the bra power plant is visible through naked eyes downwards in the sone mainstream up to Chaupan.

The danger on the century old Sone Canal System is also looming large because the share of its water reserved in the Rihand reservoir as per Bansagar Agreement is being unauthorisedly transferred to the thermal power plants in the vicinity of Rihand reservoir. It is causing recurring food production losses to the farmers, especially the tail enders, in the command areas of the canal system.

A PIL in the Patna High Court in this regard awarded the judgement in the favour of the sone command farmers directing the union of India to constitute a tribunal under the interstate river water dispute act against which the union of india preferred appeal which is pending in the Supreme Court. The PIL was filed in 1993 by none else than Mr. Saryu Roy in the capacity of the sone area farmers action committee. He himself argued in the Civil Writ case no. 3521 of 1993 before a division bench of the Patna High Court for more than a year. The observation of the division bench comprising Hon'ble Judges Mr. S K Katriar and Mr. Ashannudin Amanullah is incorporated in the concluding paragraph no. 16 of the relevant judgement delivered on Sept. 21,2011 is worth mentioning here. It is as below :-

[ 16. "Before we part with the records, we must accord our deep appreciation of the manner in which Mr. Saryu Roy, petitioner no.1, conducted the proceeding before us, the ability with which he assisted us, and maintained his patience ever since the case was lodged in this Court." ]

The unauthorised transfer of sone river water meant for agriculture in the sone basin to the industrial uses in the thermal power plants also defies the priorities enumerated in the National Water policy. The National Water policy declared in 1987 and improved in 2002 awards second highest priority to agriculture uses after the drinking uses whereas the industrial uses has been kept at fifth place in priority for uses of waters from any source. Yet violation of this national guideline is being done ruthlessly by the public undertakings of the union of india as well as that of the respective co-basin states with obvious patronage of the power that be at the national and state level.

We are trying our best to provide a meaningful alternative solution to the problem under the purview of the legal and constitutional provisions and in the light of sustainable clean development based on meaningful utilisation of precious natural resources in the interest of humanity and enrichment of river ecology and overall ecosystem.