Water-bodies & ‘Mission Amrit Sarovers’
Shiv Kumar Padha
Besides oceans and seas, a water body is any significant accumulation of water on the surface of earth or another planet. The term most often refers to oceans, seas, smaller pools of water, water springs, ponds and the wet lands. The idea of water bodies is not new in India. During our ancient societies there had been a great significance of water bodies for the sustenance of human and the animal life on the planet. Providing drinking water facility to the thirsty souls and food to the hungry stomachs has always been considered a noble and pious job in the world. In order to provide drinking water facilities to the mankind, wild as well as the animal world around, the visionary societies gave the concept of ‘Chabeel’, a place where water is served to the thirsty souls, created small ponds, pools, Bowlies, springs and the, water bodies not only within the habitation but inside the dense forests, remote inaccessible areas, in the outskirts and in the lanes of the villages and the towns where the thirsty live could quench their thirst. Providing and managing water supply to these inaccessible water bodies is impossible and difficult but these water bodies have the provision and capacity to accumulate and tap the rain water which can stand in good stead during the dry and hot seasons of the year.
Inland water resources of the country are classified as rivers, canals, ponds, beels, lakes oxbow lakes, derelict and the brackish water. Leaving rivers and canals, total water bodies cover area about 7 M, Ha. Uttar Pardesh occupies first place with the total length of the rivers, canals and lakes as 31.2 thousand Km, which is about 17 percent of the total length of river and canals in the country? Other states following UP are Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya pardesh where inland water resources like tanks, ponds have maximum area (2.9 M, Ha,)followed by reservoirs (2.1 M.Ha,). Most of the area under tanks, ponds, pools lies in AP, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, W. Bengal and Rajasthan account for 62 percent of total area under tanks and ponds in the country.
There is hardly any village, town or city in the country where the old water bodies, in the shape of pools, ponds, laks and tanks with a provision of sitting platform under the shady trees, are not available. But majority of these water bodies have either been encroached or have been converted into the residential accommodations or in the residential colonies by the powerful and influential persons of the society. Not to talk of the cities, there is no sign of any water bodies or Kahcherai land left on the ground where the stray animals can graze and drink water Which tantamount to atrocities towards the animals. The other purpose of these water bodies was to make the surrounding environment eco-friendly. Roaming about of the animals, like the street dogs, stray animals, entrance of the wild life in the human locality in search of food and water is the result of the encroachments of these lands especially meant for the animal world.
In order to free the already existing water bodies from the occupations of the encroachers and to conserve the water sources for future, the visionary Prime Minister Narendra Modi took lead in launching the mission Amrit Sarover on April 22, 2022 in collaboration with the ministries of Rural Development, Jal Shakti, cultural, Panchayati Raj, Forest and environment departments, with the co operation of the technical organizations. The aim behind the mission is to increase the water level by constructing water tanks.
The Idea behind the mission is based upon the theme ‘Sampoorn Sarkar.’ Under the Mission 75 or more water bodies in the shape of tanks, ponds will be reconstructed, renovated or rejuvenated in each district of the country so that the population living in the proximity, the animals and the birds are benefited.
Under the mission 4042 sites for development and work on 2674 water bodied sites have been identified all over the J&K UT. It is decided to rejuvenate 1500 water bodies in J&K by august 2023 but it is sad that the revenue department seems having no clear idea either about the exact number of the disappeared water bodies or about the number of the forcibly encroached by the powerful persons of the society.
Time and again the state administration and the concerned departments have been appraised regarding the rampant encroachments of the Nallahas, streams, ravines and the hillocks by the unidentified persons having no knowledge about their antecedents resulting into the emergence of the new habitats covering the water bodies. All this has happened with the connivance and under the patronage and nose of the revenue department.
The negligence of the forest department contributes to the larger extent towards these encroachments under the pretext of Roshni act. The forests of the entire state in general and those falling in Kathua district have fallen prey to the dereliction and negligence of the state forest department and the forest protection guards who, instead of visiting and caring for their beats remain glued in their offices or prefer working as the domestic servants of their bosses. All the forests of the district have become too thin to accommodate the smallest wild life and provide drinking water or food to them.
According to the survey not even a single sapling of any kind has been planted in the jungles for the last three years while huge amount is shown has been utilized for the forestation and the Van Mahotasav. In order to make the mission a success the revenue and the forest department must be directed to identify the water bodies in the area under their jurisdiction and get them retrieved forcibly so that the dreams of the visionary prime minister are translated into reality.
(The author is a social activist).