SYNOPSIS: Everyone concerned agrees that India is facing unprecedented and worsening water crisis. Some of the key aspects of water sector challenges include: Lack of reliable water information, need for restructuring of institutions, groundwater lifeline in distress, politicians and institutions pushing more large dams when evidence shows they do not work, the need for attention to maintenance of massive water infrastructure, the increasing footprint of Urban water sector, State of our rivers in general and Ganga in particular, water management for agriculture, governance and changing climate, among others. Unfortunately, these challenges do not seem to get reflected as electoral issues and all parties are equally to be blamed for this. The current Union government has very poor report card on almost every one of the water sector challenges, and its seems like a series of missed opportunities.
Today is World Water Day. The theme for this year is ‘Leaving No One Behind’. In India it’s onset of summer. As usual, many parts of country have started facing water scarcity. After deficient monsoon, half of the country is in drought grip. The drought is further compounding the already stressed situation. Cauvery river has started drying. The monsoon failure and drying of surface water sources have severely affect the ground water resource, which is depleting across the country.
Presently groundwater is lifeline of India. It caters to meet 85 per cent of drinking water supply in rural parts. About 65 per cent of urban potable water supply is also based on ground water. Similarly 65 per cent of agricultural area is irrigated by water below the ground and it is meeting about 55 per cent of industrial demand.
The Water Aid report titled Beneath the Surface: State of the World’s Water 2019 released in this month, draws grim picture of ground water depletion in India. It says that about 24 per cent of all India’s water use is extracted ground water. With about 250 cubic km of extraction, India draws out more groundwater than any other in the world — more than that of China and the US combined. Because of this, the rate of groundwater depletion has increased by 23% between 2000 and 2010.
As we are celebrating world water day 2019 with the theme ‘Leaving No One Behind’, two United Nation’s reports release in this month have underlined the growing water crisis on the watery planet. While the WaterAid report has raised alarm over rapidly falling groundwater table in South Asia, the sixth edition of ‘Global Environment Outlook’, has warned of growing pollution of freshwater sources and resultant impact on human health.
The situation this year in India indeed warrants wide attention as about 50 per cent of the country is facing drought condition. With rapid fall in groundwater table, wells, tanks and streams are turning dry in most part of central and south Indian states. The farming, riverine and village communities are particularly at the receiving end of compounding water crisis.
The cities of Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune are facing severe water scarcity which will turn worse in the coming days. The Cauvery river in Kodagu, Karnataka has registered unprecedentedly low flow. The water level in Jayakwadi dam in Aurangabad has reached dead storage and Mettur dam has been falling sharply.
In a remedial but surprising move, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has set up a team of water marshals to act against water tankers charging exorbitantly from residents. Before this, Nasik district administration has formed patrolling squads to protect canal water from theft by farmers. Tribal areas in Siddipet, Telangana are reeling under dearth of potable water. The forest fire and increasing summer has forced wild animals move towards human populated areas.
However, on positive note, many individuals, groups and communities have silently been investing efforts in water conservation works. Many have yielded positive out-comes. Many other institutions including some initiatives at government level have also set an example before others in preserving the water resources and treating and reusing polluted water. Also, there are a number of remarkable water conservation efforts by farming communities across the country. This compilation tries to put together some of the positive water actions in India during the past one year.
Inspiring tale of three villages in Thalisain tehsil (Pouri Garhwal district, Uttarakhand) which have been putting in sustained efforts for years in creating recharge pits, plantation and forest protection that has ultimately resulted in revival of water sources and Gadganga a small stream part of East Nayaar River basin. Continue reading “Uffrenkhal’s Legacy of Recharge Pits Ensures Water Security”
Within a span of a week, two interesting reports on National Water situation were made public. Indians have heard of NITI Ayog’s first ever report on Composite Water Management Index, trying to put together state of water management in India. Not many here would have heard of the United States Geological Survey (USGS)’s once in five year report on water consumption for various activities and states in USA[i]. The US report was published on June 19, 2018, five days after NITI Ayog report was launched on June 14 by Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari.[ii] Continue reading “A tale of two National Water reports: NITI and USGS”
HIMACHAL PRADESH Water scarcity leaves Shimla high and dry Residents in the city are reeling under acute water shortage for the last few days. They are getting rationed water supply after four-five days.“Hoteliers are paying private tankers Rs 2,600 for 6,000 litre water,” said Harnan Kukreja, president, Shimla Hoteliers’ Association. The Shimla Municipal Corporation is struggling to ration 21 MLD of water that was pumped from its major sources these days. The water availability per resident was just 5 litre as on May 25.
The city needs 45 MLD water daily, but the water availability has come down from 29 MLD last week to 21 MLD on May 25, 2018. Guma, which has 20 MLD capacity, and Giri, which has 20 MLD capacity, could supply just 4 MLD and 14 MLD, respectively, revealed MC supply chart. Churat supplied 1.25 MLD, Chair (0.32 MLD) and Koti- Brandi (0.35 MLD).
Around 4-5 MLD water is getting wasted due to leakages in supply lines before it reaches MC storage tanks in the city. The state government and the MC have failed to compensate for the water that it used to get from the Ashwani khud, supply from where was suspended in 2015 following a jaundice outbreak in the city. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/water-scarcity-leaves-shimla-high-and-dry/594998.html (The Tribune, 26 May 2018) Continue reading “India’s Summer of Water Crisis in 2018”