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Following article on” Water Management in India ” is part of our series on general awareness:
Water is the most basic resource to sustain the life on earth. It is a natural resource, fundamental to life, livelihood, food security and sustainable development. India has more than17 percent of the world’s population, but has only 4% of world’s renewable water resources with 2.6% of world’s land area. The total surface flow, including regenerating flow from groundwater and the flow from neighboring countries, is estimated at 1,869 cubic kilometers per year (km3/year), of which only 690 km3 are considered as utilizable in view of the constraints of the present technology for water storage and inter-state issues. The Central Water Commission estimates the groundwater resources at 418.5 km3/year. Part of this amount, estimated at 380 km3/year, constitutes the base flow of the rivers. The total renewable water resources of India are therefore estimated at 1,907.8 km3/year.
With a growing population and rising needs of a fast developing nation, availability of water is coming under severe strain. Many international as well as intranational conflicts owe their origin to water sources. Baghlihar project, Kishanganga project etc are often discussed in India Pakistan talks, sharing of water Teesta River is discussed in India Bangladesh talks, and India is also concerned with China’s plan to divert the water of Brahmaputra River. Within India also, states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Punjab Haryana and Rajasthan comes at loggerhead for water sharing issues. Most of the water disputes are due to its unequal distribution and lack of a unified perspective in planning, management and use of water resources. Water management in India is indeed important for following reasons:
1)Large parts of India have already become water stressed. Rapid growth in demand for water due to population growth, urbanization and changing lifestyle pose serious challenges to water security.
2)There is wide variation in availability of water, which may increase substantially due to climate changes, causing more water crisis and incidences of water related disasters, i.e., floods, increased erosion and increased frequency of droughts, etc.
3)Climate change may also increase the sea levels. This may lead to salinity intrusion in ground water aquifers / surface waters and increased coastal inundation in coastal regions.
4)Access to safe drinking water still continues to be a problem in some areas. Skewed availability of water between different regions and different people in the same regions is has the potential of causing social unrest.
5)Groundwater, a community resource, is still perceived as an individual property and is exploited inequitably and without any consideration to its sustainability leading to its over-exploitation in several areas.
6)Inter-State, inter-regional disputes in sharing of water hamper the optimum utilization of water through scientific planning.
7)The existing water resources infrastructure is not being maintained properly resulting in under-utilization of available resources
8)Growing pollution of water sources is affecting the availability of safe water besides causing environmental and health hazards
9)A holistic and inter-disciplinary approach at water related problems is missing
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At present the water consumption in India is about 750 km3/year for all the applications, viz. agricultural, industrial, domestic and commercial. Therefore the any water management in India must be holistic in nature where Centre, the States and the local bodies (governance institutions) must ensure access to a minimum quantity of potable water for essential health and hygiene to all its citizens, available within easy reach of the household. Therefore, the water management in India must include following measures:
i)Planning, development and management of water resources need to be governed by national perspectives on an integrated and environmentally sound basis, keeping in view the human, social and economic needs
ii)Large water supply schemes to meet the urban as well as rural needs of water for both irrigation and drinking, and piped water supply schemes for drinking water
iii)Good governance through informed decision making is crucial to the objectives of equity, social justice and sustainability
iv)Access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation should be regarded as a right to life essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights. As such, water for such human needs should have a pre-emptive priority over all other uses
v)Rain water harvesting and artificial recharge of ground water sources
vi)Treatment of chemically and biologically contaminated ground water sources in rural areas for provision of safe potable water
vi)Augmentation of water resources in coastal areas by large scale desalination of abundant sea water
viii)Treatment of domestic/industrial effluents and recycling of usable water for irrigation and commercial purposes thereby diverting the water used in these areas for domestic consumption
Majority of the total consumption of water is utilized for irrigation purposes in agricultural. In India, even now, the traditional techniques of flood irrigation are followed which involve flooding of field with water. Such techniques involve ample waste of water. Modern irrigation techniques like drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation are found to be more efficient one where wastage of water is minimum. It is also found that following the modern irrigation practices, productivity of land also increases
The second largest consumer of water in India is industrial sector which pollutes more water than what it utilizes. Entire stretch of major rivers including Ganga is polluted due to sewage and industrial waste discharge. Every year government releases millions of Rupee for the cleaning of rivers but the water resource is getting more polluted every day because of industrial discharge and corruption. Wasteful use of water is witnessed in domestic sector also
The proper water management involves judicious use of water along with its conservation. The motto of water management is to make the water availability perpetual one. For that matter rain water harvesting is most promising tool. It must be made compulsory for all new building and the government buildings. Government provides subsidy to the farmers for purchasing tube wells. The excessive use of tube wells is leading to fast depletion of ground water. At least in urban areas government may impose an extra levy on extracting ground water. Declining ground water levels in over-exploited areas need to be arrested by introducing improved technologies of water use, incentivizing efficient water use and encouraging community based management of aquifers. In addition, where necessary, artificial recharging projects should be undertaken so that extraction is less than the recharge. This would allow the aquifers to provide
base flows to the surface system, and maintain ecology.
There should be a forum at the national level to deliberate upon issues relating to water and evolve consensus, co-operation and reconciliation amongst party States. A similar mechanism should be established within each State to amicably resolve differences in competing demands for water amongst different users of water, as also between different parts of the State.
And last but not the least, to meet the need of the skilled manpower in the water sector, regular training and academic courses in water management should be promoted. These training and academic institutions be regularly updated by developing infrastructure and promoting applied research, which would help to improve the current procedures of analysis and informed decision making in the line departments and by the community.
Low public consciousness about the overall scarcity and economic value of water results in its wastage and inefficient use. Therefore a general awareness about water management is needed to be created and the community must proactively involve itself in the conservation of most vital resource of earth for its sustainable development.
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