Vijaypura declaration (18 august 2017)


To ensure water, food and livelihood security and climate resilience

through a drought and flood free India

Water security alone will ensure food & livelihood security and mankind’s resilience in the face of climate change.

 We the people, assembled together at Vijayapura,

Karnataka State, India, from 101 river basins and sub-basins of India, to share issues, challenges, experiences, best practices and expertise and to evolve a model of Jala Saksharta (Water-Literacy) and Jala-Sanskruti (WaterCulture) in order to further integrate, motivate and mobilize Sant, Samaj, Shasan and Mahajan (Spiritual-Mentors, People, Government & Resource-Mentors) as inclusive stake-holders in the Mission of building an India free of droughts and floods, with water, food and livelihood security ensured and hence resilient in the face of the incremental

climate changes that threaten the present and the future.

  • We have accepted the River Basin as the model for the width of study and teamwork: The essence of Jala-Saksharta (Water-Literacy) and Jala-Sanskruti (Water-Culture) is in understanding that the river existed before the state boundaries were drawn. The river is currently experienced as ‘an endless and exhaustless commodity to be fought over in a competitive mode’. The river is correctly experienced as ‘an essential natural resource, entrusted to the whole community, that must be served together to keep it healthy and sustainable’. The river needs to be protected, rejuvenated and restored not only for the human species but for the health and resilience of the entire eco-system. Formation of 21 river parliaments will be the beginning of working together – not only to rejuvenate the river – but also to rejuvenate human culture and civilization with the introduction of loyalty to the river basin first – above all boundaries – national, state, district, revenue, religious, cultural or linguistic.
  • We will liberate the river from encroachment. We will prevent the urban proliferation of cement jungles inside the river bed and on flood-plains and remove these encroachments to maintain the free and original flow of the river. The proliferation of sand-mining in all rivers urges us to act urgently to stop the actions of the sand-mafia.
  • The government must respect the ecological and hydrological integrity of the river by declaring the river-system as a reserved protected zone after identifying, demarcating and notifying the domain of the river. The red and blue lines which indicate the restricted and prohibited zones must strictly guide development along the banks of the river.
  • We will liberate the river from pollution. This river-back-habitat, where the population affecting the river-front resides, needs to be free of solid and liquid wastes through community driven decentralized waste management and recycling, supported and facilitated by the government so that the river-front does not become a garbagefront. Mere beautification of the river-front is only two percent of the total task of cleaning the river-back-habitat and the river-front, together.
  • We must find solutions to salinity – either of land or of estuarine & delta ecosystems.
  • Separate the Sewer from the River. The water treated by STPs must be reused, after being found suitable, for gardens and for agriculture.
  • We must set up the standard of river water health as 8 ppm of DO (Dissolved Oxygen) as commensurate with International Standards for DO in the waters of rejuvenated rivers like the Rhine, the Thames and the Hudson.
  • We will Liberate the river and catchment area from over-exploitation. We must adopt irrigation engineering techniques that optimize storage as well as improve water use efficiency in the river basin
  • Shift land-use patterns to a healthier situation where population gets re-distributed and decentralized through reverse-migration strategies.
  • Saving the Sahyadri forests will save the peninsular rivers. Saving the Himalayan forests will save the Gangetic plains rivers.
  • The River and Law. We must ensure that land-rights and water-rights are separated to ensure equity in groundwater distribution. Water conflict resolution must be resolved through the involvement of people, farmers, water-experts, state-representatives and stake holders from the entire river basin and this process of resolution through dialogue must precede the appeal to court and judiciary. Formation of river parliaments will facilitate this.
  • We will work to prevent droughts and floods in the river basin. Our biggest challenge will be to understand exactly how our inadequate understanding & resulting unpreparedness at the stages of research, understanding, anticipation, planning, behavior-transformation and stake-holder water-literacy enhances drought and flood magnifying conditions which precipitate as full-fledged and chronic droughts and floods.
  • River Basin Synergy leading to formation of River Parliament: Our inheritance of revenue boundaries has fractured our planning of river-health into planning for unconnected pieces of land surrounded by revenue-borders, administrative-borders, and linguistic-borders – It is the time to step out and bring about cooperation and synergy between all portions of the river basin – by finding uniting threads and undercurrents.
  • Transformation of River Basin Villages as the key: Identification of villages in the river basin as river-basin-villages in order to create a transcending river-basin identity to bring about parity between our self-image of being ‘administratively served and monitored water-using populations’ and ‘river-basin stake-holder water-protecting & water-recharging populations
  • Agrani River-Basin Model to be emulated, which integrates river-basin-dwellers into an integrated team in Maharashtra-Karnataka – of making each village in a river basin to take all other villages in that river basin into consideration – for study, understanding, planning, and implementation of inclusive river rejuvenation and inclusive river basin enrichment reforms.
  • Establishing Jala Saksharta Kendras in every State: Maharashtra State has initiated the formation of a Jala Saksharta Kendra in YASHADA (Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration), Pune. This center has devised detailed strategies for a village, taluka, district, division and state level training of 50,000 jala-speaks, jala-doots, jala-premis, jala-yoddhas, jala-karmis and jalanayaks in order to bring about Water-Literacy in all the population of Maharashtra towards prevention of chronic droughts and floods.

“21 rivers have been listed for creation of River Parliament 

 with specific individuals and river-basin teams  

having taken up the task of creating the same to further the aims and objectives inherent in this declaration.”

 Now, having accepted the above as guidelines for placing the river-basin as the basic unit for civilizational planning and reform, we, the people of 101 river basins assembled here in Vijayapura do pledge, individually and collectively, that we are citizens of our river-basin first and that our land-based identities are secondary to our water-based identities and loyalties – and we shall abide by this wider integrative interpretation and living-expression of our relationship with each other and with nature – in spirit, in word and in action, in values, in strategies, in legislations and in administrative partnerships and cultural and civilizational-synergies across existing borders of all types which divide humans from humans and which divide human beings from nature.

Best practices from the host Karnataka State which can be nationally shared and replicated :

Soil and water conservation in rainfed crop areas which do not have the benefit of dam and canal irrigation is taken as a priority on equal footing with irrigated crop areas
Micro Irrigation Project as implemented in Ramthal, Bagalkot District, must be replicated
Filling tanks & lakes with river water, as successfully implemented at Begum Talab
Krishi Bhagya projects in Karnataka as low-cost innovations where rain water run-off fills farm-ponds for supplementary irrigation for agricultural sustainability
Revival of traditional heritage water-harvesting and distribution systems which were established in the past by benevolent rulers like Adil Shahi Dynasty