It’s not secret that water pollution is getting worse in India, including pollution of groundwater sources, thought we still donot know the full extent of the pollution of that source. But there is so little citizen action on such an important issue that affects so many so severely on daily basis. So it’s great to see four separate instances of such action this week, one each from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Kerala. In absence of any seriousness shown by governments at centre and states and any effective success from judicial intervention, this is welcome news. One only hopes this is no flash in the pan and rather beginning of citizens’ action to agitate against such rampant water pollution that goes on in India.
As things stand now, Gujarat is facing prospects of a serious water crisis that may extend till at least next average or above average monsoon. State level Rainfall so far this monsoon is 19% below average as on Sept 1. But the state level average hides the local situation.
Some of the districts that have received rainfall with high deficits, as per IMD figures till Sept 1, 2018 include: Kutch: -58%; Patan: -58%; Gandhinagar: -51%; Morbi: -47%; Ahmedabad: -48%; Surendranagar -43%; Banaskantha: -55%; Mehsana: -52%; Devbhoomi Dwarka: -40%. These district level figures indeed show massive rainfall deficit with less than a month of monsoon remaining. Continue reading “Gujarat’s water crisis rooted in years of misplaced priorities”
In a rare event, Punjab Cabinet met to discuss water crisis on June 26, 2018. The reports before the meeting seemed to give hope that may be Punjab will look at the water crisis in a fundamental, holistic way. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/punjab-government-to-firm-up-water-conservation-plan-5233826/ (June 26, 2018)
But the cabinet ended up setting up a committee to assess the ground water situation in the state and submit a detailed proposal for water conservation.
– Punjab has the highest rate of groundwater exploitation and had on average withdrawn 28.2 million acre feet (MAF) water yearly during 2008-2013. However, the yearly average replenishment of water was only 18.9 MAF.
– 73% of Punjab’s irrigated area uses groundwater for irrigation, while only 27% uses surface water. The number of tubewells had gone up exponentially from 2 lakh in 1971 to 12.50 lakh in 2015-16, with 41% of these have water availability beyond the depth of 60 metres. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/5-member-committee-to-assess-punjab-ground-water/articleshow/64770186.cms (28 June 2018)
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”
On occasion of International Day for Biodiversity May 22, 2018, the Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari released the report on “Status of Conservation of Select Aquatic Species” in river Ganga in New Delhi . The celebrations have been organised to mark the 25 years of coming into force of the Convention on Biological Diversity. He also inaugurated a day-long workshop organized by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on the theme “Ganga and its Biodiversity: Developing a Road Map for Habitat and Species Conservation”.
A database of Ganga Praharis’, a self-motivated cadre, being created by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) was also launched by the Minister. Shri U.P. Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation said: “Ganga still has about 2,000 aquatic species.” He also pointed out that both aviralta and nirmalta of river Ganga are important and the government is committed to achieve both.
Residents of Muruga Tholuvu Harijan Colony in Chennimalai Union have urged the district administration to take steps to provide them water on a regular basis. In a petition, they said that villagers have to go in search of water from other areas and transport it in bicycles regularly. They said that most of the people were labourers and their livelihood is lost when they go in search for water. They said that the situation is worse during summer season, as water is not available at nearby areas and they are unable to purchase water from the market too. http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/provide-drinking-water-villagers/article22935093.ece (The Hindu, 5 March 2018)
With the beginning of summer season, there are several news reports describing the growing water crisis in different parts of country. Here are details of various Indian states suffering from water scarcity for industrial, irrigational and even for drinking purposes which given the due summer months could develop into grim scenario. These stories also show how the mismanagement of dam storages, exploitation of ground water resources and pollution of rivers have significant role in aggravating the situation.
Gujarat The state is staring at a water crisis this summer, with low water levels in the Narmada dam and almost all other major dams. On March 3, the CM Vijay Rupani has held a meeting with senior minister and bureaucrats to take stock of the water situation in the state and discussed ways to ensure drinking water availability. The government also has decided to allocate Rs 200 crore in special grants for augmentation of local water sources and instructed all collectors to form district committees, have weekly review meetings and start supply of water by tankers wherever required.
As per Counter View report, a well-informed Gujarat government source has told it that a major reason why the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) recently declared there would be “no water” from the multi-purpose irrigation scheme, Sardar Sarovar dam, to Gujarat farmers starting March 15, 2018, is Madhya Pradesh elections, scheduled for this year-end.
The source, refusing to be identified, said, “Already, massive preparations are on in Madhya Pradesh to provide as much Narmada water to the state’s farmers by storing as much water as possible. The idea is to appease the farmers with Narmada waters in the same way as it was done last year before the elections took place in Gujarat.”
This shows how dams in Narmada Valley are being used for achieving political ends, once again. Earlier they were used for Gujarat elections, now they are being used for Madhya Pradesh elections. https://www.counterview.net/2018/01/narmada-waters-in-gujarat-stopped-to.html (Counter View, 20 January 2018)
In another report, anonymous official admits water shortage apparent in Nov 2017 before Gujarat polls was not announced, another indicator of how Narmada dams are used to achieve political ends. https://www.counterview.net/2018/01/narmada-water-for-irrigation-state.html (Counter View, 21 January 2018)
However, this is not happening for the first time. This also happened before the Nov 2017 Gujarat elections and also before 2014 General elections and 2012 Punjab elections, as illustrated below.
Before 2014 general elections too the level of water in Narmada reservoirs was depleted to generate additional power keeping in mind the elections. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/narmada-dams-levels-depleted-to-generate-more-electricity-threatening-water-security-for-gujarat-and-madhya-pradesh/
In case of Bhakra, the way the reservoir level was allowed to deplete in summer of 2012 had consequences in subsequent monsoon. https://sandrp.in/dams/PR_Why_precarious_water_situation_at_Bhakra_dams_was_avoidable_July_2012.pdf
Karnataka is witnessing drought for the third successive year; rainfall has been deficient since 2012-13. Because of the rainfall deficit, reservoirs did not fill up completely. Coupled with the hot summer temperatures in March and April 2016, the stored water has now almost depleted. Groundwater, the saviour in times of failure of rainfall, has dipped severely because of years of reckless exploitation for irrigating water guzzling crops in semi arid soils. With even drinking water becoming scarce, agricultural activity has come to a standstill in the region. The drought in 2015 was preceded by unseasonal rains damaging the previous harvest. The monsoon deficit led to a dip in kharif output throughout the State in 2015. The drought spread even to the normally lush Cauvery basin prompting digging and deepening of borewells. While southern Karnataka received some heavy rains in November, districts in Northern Karnataka again saw failure of rains with some districts such as Kalaburagi, Koppal and Yadgir registering over 70% deficiency in rainfall. There has been a near complete failure of crops in Northern Karnataka, with both rabi and kharif crops being wiped out, even as area under sugarcane has gone up! The northern region, which also lags in development indices, is in the clutches of rural distress – over a thousand farmers have committed suicide. Mass migration to cities is being witnessed.