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Release of 'Agony of Floods: Flood Induced Water Conflicts in India'

The Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India (Forum), Pune; and Megh Pyne Abhiyan (MPA), New Delhi is extremely happy in inviting you for the release of the Forum's publication 'Agony of Floods: Flood Induced Water Conflicts in India', a compendium of case studies of flood induced water conflicts in India' in Patna. The release function is scheduled between 05:00 – 07:00 pm on October 22, 2013 at the Conference Hall, Sewa Kendra, Kurji, P.O Sadaquat, Ashram, Patna . We request you for your participation.

Prof. Nirmal Sengupta, who headed the working group on floods of the Planning Commission, Shri Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) and Dr. Dinesh Kumar Mishra have kindly agreed to be guest of honour for the release function.

Water conflicts are often associated with scarcity. In most situations, this may be true. However, conflicts also occur during times of plenty: the case of floods is one such situation. Though there has been much academic and civil society engagement with the issue of floods, there does not seem to be any serious, systematic attempt to look at floods from the point of view of conflict and contestation – an issue that has remained unexplored till date. The Forum’s engagement with flood induced conflicts needs to be seen as part of its larger effort to understand water conflicts in India, which has been one of its core mandates.

The Forum believes that the documentation and dissemination of water related conflicts can lead to more informed debates: the first step towards a possible resolution and/or prevention. Thus capturing, understanding, and disseminating knowledge, and initiating a dialogue around flood induced conflicts in different locations in India, are the core purposes of the Forum’s initiative. Problematising the relation between floods and conflict will not only broaden our understanding on water related conflicts in general and flood induced conflicts in particular, but can also help to develop better strategies to deal with floods and their impacts.

The Forum has been engaged in documenting several kinds of water conflicts in India since 2004-05. The present compendium of case studies of flood induced water conflicts in India is part of the same initiative. Today, the Forum includes more than 150 individuals and organisations across the country. The Forum is now engaged in four broad areas
of work: a) conflict documentation, b) conflict resolution, c) conflict prevention and d) networking and awareness. The Forum has a central secretariat housed in the Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM), Pune. The Forum has a Steering Committee and Advisory Committee to guide its work. The present volume of flood induced water conflicts has been prepared in collaboration with MPA.

MPA is a public charitable trust but it initiated its work in the flood prone areas of north Bihar in 2005 as an informal campaign-network. MPA's motivation is to construct a congenial social environment in the flood prone areas of north Bihar through sustainable technological innovations and adaptation of conventional wisdom to ensure a shared, sustainable and effective management of water in the region. MPA is working in five flood prone districts of north Bihar in partnership with local NGOs – Gramyasheel, Supaul; Kosi Seva Sadan, Saharsa; Samta, Khagaria; Ghoghardiha Prakhand Swarajya Vikas Sangh, Madhubani and Water Action, Pashchim Champaran.

The sources of flood induced conflicts must be understood in order to engage with them effectively. Unfortunately, floods have never been looked into through the lens of conflict and contestation, despite significant variations in their magnitude, character, locations, and the space they impact. Therefore, understanding the correlation between floods and the conflict perspective will not only broaden the existing discourse around floods but also strengthen the effort to showcase the extended impact of human induced disaster in the country leading to better strategies in dealing with them. This publication we hope will help develop a more nuanced understanding of the sub-regional variations of floods (during all three stages – pre, during and post) in order to develop the conflict resolution strategies more appropriately. It can also help agencies involved in addressing flood concerns to comprehend the differential impacts of floods on various social sections, which might help in developing intervention strategies that will be more contextual. Therefore, your presence will help in bringing forth the otherwise ignored issue of flood induced conflicts in India and will facilitate dissemination of knowledge, and initiation of dialogue around it.

The Forum and MPA, requests you to participate in the release function of the compendium at Patna on October 22, 2013.

Thanking you!
Yours sincerely
The Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India and Megh Pyne Abhiyan

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