The Bold Voice of J&K

Effective management of water for development

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Dr.Banarsi Lal, Dr.Shahid Ahamad

Widespread aquifer depletion in the ground water areas, water logging in the canal regions and soil salinisation due to sea water ingress in the coastal zones are undeniable symptoms of an imminent water crisis in India. The water crisis has both quantitative and qualitative dimensions. We have glaring instances of water sharing conflicts not only between the states but also among the farmers or other water users. We have not heard of river water disputes till the middle of 20th century. Disputes over river water are of recent origin. It is predicted that rivers and their water distribution will become one of the most politicised ecological issues in the near future. Water is scarce even for drinking purpose. India already is facing an alarming situation. Its fragile water resources are stressed and depleting while various sectorial demands are growing rapidly even as about 200 million people in the country do not have access to safe drinking water and nearly 1.5 million children under five die each year due to water-borne diseases. The droughts conditions in several parts of the country are on the rise and disputes over sharing of the water resources are becoming grimmer. If the available freshwater resources in India are not managed properly India will face a severe water crisis. At present, six of India’s 20 major river basins already fall into water scarce category. It is expected that by the year 2025, five more basins will be water scarce. According to estimates, by the year 2025, India will face a severe water shortage leading to serious struggles and it is also expected that within a few decades availability of water in the country will be about 1,700 to 2,000 cubic metres as per person as against the world average of 5,000 to 9,000 cubic metres per person. India is heading towards a freshwater crisis due to improper management of water resources and environmental degradation which has led to lack of access to safe water supply to millions of people. The freshwater crisis is already evident in many parts of the country varying in scale and intensity depending mainly on the time of the year. Ground water crisis has been caused by human actions. The most tragic part is that water is a finite natural resource and so far no technology has contributed successfully to produce water for mass scale. Environmentalists like Sunderlal Bahuguna are not wrong in saying that the acute scarcity of water may force the powerful nations to wage a new global war for the control of the depleted sources of water. New strategies for water management and development are urgently needed to avert severe national, regional and local water scarcities. Major institutional policy and technological initiatives are required to ensure efficient, socially equitable and environmentally suitable management of water resources. Farmers co-operation is must in the process of water management. Recently government of India launched a scheme called as the Pardhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana (PMKSY) under which irrigation will be ensured to each farmer of the country and special emphasis will be given on the micro-irrigation to increase the water use efficiency at his farm. Also more crops per drop will be the major objective of this programme. An efficient irrigation system can sustain India’s expanding population. Researchers and extension personnel should pay attention in increasing the agricultural production per unit area per unit of water. Water management programmes should be implemented in a systematic way. Immediate steps should be taken for drastic reduction of wastage of water in all sectors and protection of water sources from industrial pollution. A strong political will of the government to frame an appropriate water policy and equally important indomitable conscience of water users to utilise water judiciously are necessary for sustainable utilisation of water.
The writers are: Dr.Banarsi Lal, Asstt. Professor and Dr.Shahid Ahamad, Assoc. Professor, KVK Reasi (Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Jammu).

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