Subrata Biswas: How coal dries out villages in western India

• March 22, 2016
coal dries out villages

Drought in Maharashtra. Courtesy of: Subrata Biswas / Greenpeace, 2016

Authored by Subrata Biswas, re-posted from Greenpeace
Subrata Biswas is an independent photo journalist

It’s only the first week of March, but the weather has already turned curiously dry and hot; the harsh wind permeating through the car as we drive through remote Maharashtra. Located in the western region of India, Maharashtra is one of the wealthiest and most developed states, home to the glittering capital of Mumbai. But where we are, is far away from any type of plentiful and resourceful area.

What we see are acres of dried fields full of burnt crops; people carrying large water pots; long queues beside a deep tube well or water tanker; dried canals connecting dams with nearby villages. Over four days and travelling almost 1,500 km these sights are common as I document the drought-affected villages in Solapur, Beed and Osmanabad districts in Maharashtra. 

The World Economic Forum has listed water security as one of the most tangible and fastest-growing social, political and economic challenges faced today. The high water intensity of global energy generation is creating a need for an analysis of water-coal conflict caused by coal power production.

Released on World Water Day, Greenpeace has prepared a groundbreaking analysis of the impacts of the world’s coal power plants on global water resources. The results show that the world’s coal power plants are consuming an amount of water that could meet the basic requirements for 1 billion people.

Globally 44 % of the proposed coal power plants are in areas categorized as high water stress. Among them, a quarter are situated in red-list areas, which are at risk of running out of water. Among the globally critical areas are western China, such as Inner Mongolia, and Central India such as Maharastra. In these areas a conflict with other water users like farmers and food production is already happening.

See full PHOTO BLOG here >>

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