Chennai: 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
"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 fifth of the river waters that flow into
the sea in India are saved by interlinking rivers, India can be a
Later, Kalam said visionary leadership is the need of Indian
"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.