Saturday, July 14, 2012

Is India Water Starved ?

Come Monsoon, and every Indian looks up to the skies, checks the forecast models, measures and checks every possible parameter, from the Pacific Ocean water temperatures to the High pressure off the Australian Coast. All and sundry are talking about an "El-Nino" or a "Low Pressure" having formed somewhere...(on asking someone what is a Low Presuure, the reply I got was "an area of Low Temperature forming clouds"). 

Its always good to know whats coming and how much is coming. 
But why is it that we are so much, in fact totally depended on these 4 months of Monsoon rains. 
In the event of a Monsoon failure, which could mean a mere 20% deficiency, our economy is hit, inflation rises and rural capacity declines to hit the FMCG production lines. 

Is this worthy of a growing super economy? Have we over-rated ourselves ?

The obviuos solution is prudent and honest water management. Indians are very capable and intelligent enough to plan and re-organise the country's water resources. They, or any officials do not need to travel abroad to "learn" and "study" these things.

So, what's the way out of this dependency ?
Make Water a National Asset. Remove or dilute the State's monopolistic control over "their" waters. 

India gets more than sufficient rainfall, 120 cms annually, against a Global avaerage of 100 cms. India is NOT a water starved country ! Even a deficit of 20% ( official Drought Figure) would bring 96 cms rain ! 

As most of this rain is in the 4 months from June- September, it is necassary to prudently store and conserve this water to prevent floods and drought. Store the waters in reservoirs and enhance irrigation needs. The U.S. has stored water in dams for more than 2 years !India has barely enough to meet 1 year's requirement. 
Storage in a systematic manner is also a must, as India also banks on hydro-electric generation. Can we even afford a shortage of electricity ? What happens to our promised 8% and above growth rate ?

Change crop patterns susequently and, thru proper planned irrigation, increase crop out put.
I kg of rice needs 4200 ltrs of water, 1 kg of wheat requires 780 ltrs and sugar cane (sugar) much more. With knowledge of stored water capacity, crops can be planned well in advance before sowing.
Unless the poor farmer is guided, how is he going to manage his crop planning. He does not have a drawing board to make short term and long term plans, he has no access to weather know how, and does not even know tomorrow's weather eventuality. 

Urban centres cam play a very crucial role. Proper planning by the local bodies, as well as rain water harvesting is a must. 
Chennai has set the best example in this. 
Mumbai needs to first repair its "thousands" of leakages in the pipelines bringing water to the city from the Lakes.

Only a devoted and mature policy and attitude can end India's water woes..other wise...

Comments and views most welcome, or should I say, necassary.

Some excerpts taken From "The Business Standard"...


Anonymous said...

hmm not what i expected from you but good points

Abhijit Modak said...

@ Rajesh Sir. Nice article. now the time has come to look seriously in water management technique. Water harvesting at every premises in cities, town & village should be made compulsary as ground water levels are going down due to concrete junlgle increasing ! Every body should learn water conservation policy .Mostly rich people waste water as they are ready to spend more money for their huge requirements like bath tub or continuous shower ! And cloud seeding should be used for rainfall improving of deficit region when clouds are present over the area, as many countries like China uses this technique ! And most important population control should be strictly implemented! No more than 2 childs per parents! As our resources are limited but day by day users for using resources are increasing so how the big gap can be filled up ! So this are some of mine thoughts, if any wrong views then sorry in advance !

Pavan said...

Very sorry but we indians are so stupid may be ourselves or may be made by the system to improve ourselves we need atleast 5 years of severe drought, its very bad on my part to make such a statement but it is the reality, for example a indian city whch is getting water supply every alternate day due to deficit rain, even though people waste it may be one forth tmc water is wasted in every indian city in deficency of water (i am stating the situation of pune), and condition drastically changes when we receive just a 100mm of rain, the water supply wil be twice a day and in many parts al the 24 hrs and wastage increses to 0.5 tmc. Govt should be really practical at ths pt of time conditions are very dangerous in many parts. Hope this situation teaches us.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Pavan, Indians are callous and stupid when it comes to conserving water. Simple rain water harvesting can answer most of water woes.

Regards, Ananth

Anonymous said...

well you guys who are insulting indians do realise you guys are indians have anyone here taken up water harvesting here at home or society...

Atul said...

Very nice article Rajesh sir. I agree with pavan,ananth. From our part what we can do is to see if rain water harvesting is in placed in our society. If I am not wrong it wont take much money per person in society to put it in place. I have experience that people are ready to spend money on their expensive gadgets but not on these projects. With less money they will agree.

But from government wastage point of view what we can do? Is there any way like filing RTI application to check if corporation people are taking projects to reduce water wastage seriously.

Please suggest if such ways exists. Everyone can work in his area to make situation better.

Pavan said...

Belovd anony,
yes i made this statement and i am a part of it
when u talk of rainwater harvest then what abt the water which flow away without using, in big cities where there is lack of space in older societies it is not possible to convince one and all rainwater harvest should be done at community level may be by ngo or govt its irrespective but in a country like us where people travel miles to get a pot of water, in the same people wash there vehicle with gallons i am nt stating this difference is between some drought hit regiön and a wet region but it can be noticed in a same locality with diff mere 2km

svt said...

Nice Article.. Better water management is the way forward. Middle Vaitarna dam which is getting constructed should ease Mumbai's water problems to a certain extent. And thanks for today's detailed forecast. :)

Ron said...

water management is the need of the hour..we need to act fast before its too late.

NT said...

Nice article Rajeshbhai, thought provoking.

I had said this earlier in one of my comments, river linking should be taken on priority in the country. It's been discussed at various forums and is on the drawing board since some time but political reasons (which are often quite myopic) has prevented this to happen. We would be able to overcome two evils - droughts and floods.

Also, in a city like Mumbai where the only worry that everyone has when it rains heavily is how fast will the water go into the drains and hence in the sea. It's a pity that so much rain just goes down the drain. Rain water harvesting? Man-made reservoirs? Any of this could be an answer.

Anonymous said...

Dear Annoy,

Yes, when i said Indians are stupid (it includes me), its no shame to admit that we have misused nature gifts, regarding my personal effort, i have been part of community efforts to bring in rain water harvesting in my apartment which unfortunately has seen little success, again a personal failure.

What Pavan said is true across the country , Thanks
REgards, Ananth

Shitij said...

The total average annual rainfall of whole India is 100mm. If suppose the total average rainfall of whole India becomes equal to total annual rainfall of cherrapunji then also I don't think that people will receive waters in their home for whole 24 hours because people today are so careless that they forgot to close tap and so water keeps on flowing. Recent case was happened in my building. A family who lived in 9th floor went out of station. They forgot to close the tap and water keeps on flowing continuosly for 12 hours and whole water went into gutter.Mumbai receive more than 2500 mm of rain in whole year then also more than 50% of population of Mumbai does not get adequate water. I really hate those people who simply blame government. They should first look into themselves that how much water they waste in their homes and in other areas. I am not saying that government is not responsible for the waste of water. But people are more responsible towards it. Even though India experiences severe drought but if whole people of India starts conserving water then there will be no shortage of water

Shitij said...

sorry there was some typo error in the last 2nd line. I want to say that if at any year India experiences severe drought then also there will be no shortage of water if whole people of India starts conserving water

GSB said...

I think Shitij you wanted to say the total annual rainfall in India is 1000 mm. Actually its 900 mm and as detailed by me earlier and posted by @ Rajesh sir on interactive page it varies between 1100mm in some years to 700 mm in others. In 2009 we had one of the lowest rainfall for the past 110 years at 697mm.

Hope we don't make a new low this year I.e. below 695 mm.

rajesh said...

I agree with all that it is primarily our own responsibility to conserve water.
But how effctive can we be with Govt and BMC showing a careless attitude ? You slog and someone else is careless in preserving ? I have found out that merely repairing the counless leakages will add upto 40% supply to the city !! Thats enough to last us thru.
last year, one of the lakes were "overflowed" by opening the gates, before the lake actually anticipation of heavy rains !!
Nature provides enough water even for an increased population..manage it well..