- Draught seems to be the order of the day in one part of the country or the other. This scene is evident in 21stcentury when all methods of scientific analysis are available. Apparently, it seems that modern technology has mesmerized us. The brute force of technology obfuscated our vision and, in this process, we have become technology slaves rather than mastering it and using it for the welfare of the people. Also, we got confused as to what are the guiding principles and what is the dictum. All the scientific and technological solutions are valid and useful only under given set of conditions, which are called boundary conditions. The technology which once we learnt started to use it everywhere forgetting comfortably the boundary conditions. We neglect these conditions at our peril and suddenly we face many solutions for a single problem, and get confused by double the speed. The use technology has increased so much that it not only distorted our vision but also we tend to forget our heritage, traditions and customs applied by our forefathers for scientific collection and usage of water. The modern people are too scared from acceptance of realities and pose to be too busy to find a long-lastingwater solutionfor future generations.
- Before monsoon, Indian meteorologists each year assure us of heavy rains based on scientific observation and last years trends. This year also it has been announced that 100% rains shall occur and therefore crops production also be good, this prediction is compounding the effect of Al Nino which is a complex phenomenon. IMD chief said that this year rainfall shall not be affected by the least effect of Al Nino. Before that IMD statement that it would be premature to say anything about the effects of Al Nino and therefore this year rainfall shall also be affected by Al Nino. Therefore any prediction on its face value shall be too disastrous. It was predicted that some parts of MP shall receive 5.2% less rain fall and 10% less rainfall in North west from normal rainfall.
3.Water, a life originator has received little attention in our total planning and in recent economic reforms, water has been reduced to a luxury item whether its quantity or quality. There appears to be no policy for collection, distribution, pricing and ultimate use of water on scientific and rational lines. The following paragraphs show that some management decision are required rather than continuously singing the paeans of shortage of water and large population.
- Essentially there are only two source of water;
- Over ground water sources like, rivers, canals, ponds etc.
- Under ground water.
Both these sources require replenishment regularly so that stage of no return could be avoided. The ultimate source of replenishment is only two i.e., rain fall and snow melting. In Indian conditions, while on one side, we get several meters of rainfall for example in N.E. States, and on the other side, few mms in some part of Rajasthan. The problem is not of adequacy of water, but of unequal distribution. If the same is viewed from time span angles, then we get rain fall in about 100 hours of year and in the balance 8660 hour of an year we do not get any rainfall. This results in floods in one part of the year and near drought like situation in even in rainy season. Here again the question does not seems to be that of quantity of water but of unequal distribution in time span. The average yearly rainfall across the country is about 800 mm, therefore total water availability throughout the country is about 2629 billion cubic meters (BCM). Even if we take 150 liters per capita per day as demand and 1.25 billion people (taking into consideration the children, we may take about 1.1 billion), the total water requirement for personal usage for one year comes to about 60 billion cubic meters which is about 2.28% of total water availability in a year. Balance water may be available for direct percolation, agriculture and industries.
- The rain water in upper reaches of any river basin is stored in dams which is mostly in hills. Let us see the position of Dams and their storage capacities. In last monsoon the storage in dams was affected badly. It shall be worthwhile to mention Country actual storage capacity is 158 BCM which is about 62% of the total storage capacity of 254 BCM. This 38% storage capacity is eaten away by dam siltation. In bigger dams which includes MP also, against the total storage of 42 BCM, every year water availability is decreasing. Statics shows that last year 292 dams dried up because of nil rains in upper reaches while 298 dams were partly filled up about 62% only. Against this 241 dams were recorded as overflown in rainy season.
6.The water of rivers, canals, reservoirs and ponds may be used for agriculture and other purposes except for drinking. For drinking purposes, either we store the rain water and treat it or pump it from under ground water table. This implies that mother earth behaves as a benevolent figure treating the water which percolates to the ground water table. This percolation process to water table treat the water to the max. extent possible and make the water potable in most conditions.
Three pronged strategies need to be followed.
a . Conservation of local rainfall water
b . Effective uses of water
c . Transportation of water
Conservation of Local rainfall water
Check dams, ponds and injection wells or existing dry wells to be used for recharging the underground water and revival of dry streams. Water harvesting like, roof water or compound water. Each house to have injection bed. This will also solve the drainage problems.
In ancient habitat centers and old villages, at every locality, people provided water tanks or water ponds. In fact, almost all low-lying areas were converted into ponds. This served three purposes;
- Water to be used for various purposes.
- Recharge the ground water table and wells for drinking purposes etc.
- Used to act as a sump for drainage purposes.
These tanks and ponds have no place in modern planning. This resulted that these tanks and ponds were filled up mercilessly. The need of hour is to go back to the pond system so wisely used by one forefathers. For this we may provide;
- The contour maps of the order of 50 cms accuracy should be made available to all the villages, panchayats, urban centers etc. This will facilitate to identify the low-lying areas which can also be supported by experiences.
- In existing localities, these low-lying areas should be developed as a water tank or ponds. The ban on filling up of low lying area or using these areas for some other purposes can also be thought of.
- In new developments, these areas to be left purely for water bodies. The housing and other developments can be planned even on lightly sloppy ground, and thus providing a natural drainage.
- The biggest flaw in the tanks/ponds is, that coarser soil particles slowly settle down followed by finer particles. This results heavy clay deposit at the base and percolation to water table stops. This can be avoided by proper plantation around the periphery of tank, about 20 m wide, deep rooted trees on the outer most circle and deep rooted shrubs on the inner periphery. These roots shall arrest soil particles to the large extent and the tank can be expected to behave as a percolation tank.
Effective use of water
The various solution available require a long term assessment to be made and consequently to be implemented urgently. These are;
- Pricing of water on a rational basis.
- Stopping free electricity to rich farmers, which distorts the even basic requirement of poor farmers for drinking water.
- In areas of deficient water, discouraging the cash crops which require heavy dose of water. Unfortunately, emphasis is being laid on various farming techniques which require heavy doses of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and water, which is completely alien to India. Various examples can be cited where an equal or more production can be achieved with biological natural fertilizes and far less doses of water.
- Encouraging the use of drip irrigation, sprinkler system etc. For popularising these methods, various tax incentives can be thought of to manufacturers of these systems and bank assistance to farmers for its implementation.
Transportation of water
In rainfall deficient areas where sufficient surface water is not available, underground water is bringing increasingly used for all purposes. This is resulting over drawl and consequently desertification. In monsoon, water can be transported from excess rainfall areas to deficient rainfall areas to recharge the water table. Fortunately large parts of such areas have coarse sand as overlay surface material which is having high permeability.
Now the ultimate question is how to bring water from excess rainfall areas to deficient rainfall areas.
The canals so largely used in our country for water transportation follows the principle of gravity. This system of water transportation suffers from some very basic problems, some of these are:
- Most of the canals are unlined, therefore there is heavy water percolation at the starting lengths. Due to proximity of river and water holding structure like dams, barrages etc., the water table is already high in normal conditions therefore water percolation make the situation worst.
- Since lining of canal is a costly proposal, therefore large nos. are unlined only. There is a great loss of water in the head section itself and tail enders get little or no water in the hour of crisis.
- Since the flow is by gravity and being unlined or minimum lining designed for a normal gravity flow, cannot cope with large water velocity, therefore for large transfer of water, the use of canals become somewhat limited.
- The maintenance of canals is costly affair i.e. desilting, cleaning etc, therefore efficacy of canals is lost.
- Lastly we Indians, the poor system maintainers have already taken a heavy toll on the canals.
As already stated, the canals have limited utility for transportation of water. Also where water is to be carried against gravity, we may have to provide lift canals. Since canals have various other problems like, percolation and evaporation, other method can be tried. Other method may be that we should have steel large dia pipes on a grid pattern covering whole of the nation. This grid should be from excess rainfall to deficient rainfall areas thus having a national water grid system. This may involve large nos. of pumping stations which can be operated only in monsoon. In one part of the country where water table has gone deep or altogether vanished and in other part, excess rainfall water wastefully go to ocean. If we have a piped grid and operate this system only in rainy season for transportation of this water to deficient rainfall area, then problems shall be solved to a large extent
Monitoring of underground water table
- Due to inefficient treatment to surface water, the underground water is preferred at least for drinking purposes. Also due to canal mismanagement, the actual land coverage area is much less than theoretically covered, meaning thereby the actual source of water is underground only which has got worsened due to distorted electricity pricing policy.
- The entire country can be covered by water table monitoring net work having permanent stations. These can monitor the various water aquafirs like 1st, 2ndand thickness of water bearing strata. Based on these data the worst area can be identified and various measures to recharge the water table to be taken. If water table charging is done in monsoon only, even then it will offer a good solution.
The clean perception of the options available to be evolved and then launch a major campaign for informing the public which should also include the various solutions as a result of partnership efforts of public and government.