When a life sustaining resource is in short supply, conflicting claims over it are bound to arise. Water conflicts span the gamut of fights, from neighbours in water starved colonies to those between states over river waters. But perhaps the most vital current conflict over water is that between agriculture and industry.

“Around 70 per cent of the cases before the National Green Tribunal relate to water,” says Rahul Choudhury of Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), a group of advocates involved in environmental issues. They usually remain localised, but occasionally do hit the headlines – such as the protest in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu, where locals, supported by a number of opposition parties, are opposing the setting up of a PepsiCo bottling plant that will draw water from the nearby Thamirabarani River. They have held demonstrations – including one last October that turned violent – circulated an online petition that has drawn 65,000 supporters, and filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Madras High Court last December. Read more