Tuesday, March 29, 2016

People’s movement on water only way out!


A peoples’ movement to conserve fresh water is perhaps the only way to address the key issue of shortages in this vital resource.

If the sheer abuse of this scarce resource is any indication, we are bound to face water riots in parts of this country as seen sporadically owing to localized shortages in some parts.

Warning bells, red herrings and wakeup calls seem to have not worked thus far on judicious utilization, conservation and development of water resources as per a design in last 67 years of independence.

At every level, each sector has shown utmost disregard for managing our fresh water resources while the population continues to expand beyond 1.22 billion with no let up on either usage or abuse.

Last Sunday, in his “mann ki baat”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did make out a case for peoples’ movement for managing and developing water resources. This was in response to some engineering and medicine students taking a stand to have a bath only when required and with minimum water.

Apart from people’s movement for scientific water usage of water, policy intervention is what’s most important to move up the ground water level. The government’s campaign to develop 50,000 check dams and village-based water storage centres is worth pursuing if we were to manage water shortages that could virtually catapult into a crisis unmanageable in few years.

Water management, usage, conservation and development is not an issue faced only by a populous country like India. US space agency, NASA findings suggest that more than half the 37 largest aquifers globally are fast depleting and virtually beyond redemption.

As per NASA satellite imaging and studies, water table in India continued to deplete by 0.3 metres each year thereby seeking policy makers to sit up and search for solutions.

Hence, Prime Minister Modi’s call for deriving more in terms of farm output from every drop of water cannot just remain a slogan. Technological intervention that would mend the way we use our precious natural fresh water resources is the immediate necessity.

World Economic Forum and UN’s water development report have pointed to the fact that water would be the biggest challenge for humanity, given that fresh water shortages would touch an alarming 40 percent globally in 15 years.

If this were to happen, it would be a larger problem than terrorism or armed conflicts happening in parts of the world.

From India’s point of view, re-designing our farming techniques, industrial and domestic consumption of water should be relooked at to provide comprehensive solutions for impending water crisis.

Apart from check dams, the government at centre and states should take the lead in reviving the water bodies that have dried up or desilt our lakes, rivers and flowing water resources. Secondly, linking rivers for replenishment and judicious usage must be hastened up. Suresh Prabhu as a central minister in erstwhile Vajpayee government did make several important suggestions apart from drawing up a holistic plan. This needs to be dusted up immediately and put into action.

Thirdly, as experimented in several villages of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharastra, building water banks can be done immediately. Only members of these banks can withdraw water as per a community policy that can be put together locally.

Fourthly, involving the communities, non-government organisations, youth & students apart from gram sabhas in water management is of paramount importance.

Fifthly, one needs to consider an effective pricing policy towards water only to dissuade companies and commercial establishments from exploitation of this vital resource. For drinking purposes, no one what so ever should be charged as a matter of human right.

No comments:

Post a Comment