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"...