- Intro – portray the water shortage scenario.
- Mention the need for efficient water resources management.
- Delineate some of the major governmental steps taken.
It is estimated that globally 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries and about 2.0 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. In India, analysis by the Central Ground Water Board on groundwater availability & utilization reveals that annual extraction is more than the annual recharge quantity in 16% of the total assessed area. It is 90-100% of annual recharge capacity in 4% of the assessed area.
Reasons For Equitable Water Resources Management:
- The UNGA resolution adopted in 2010, explicitly recognises the human right to water and sanitation.
- According to WHO, a person requires a minimum of 50 litres of water per day to meet the most basic needs. The water source has to be within 1 km of the home with collection time not exceeding 30 minutes.
- The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.1 aims for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.
- Unequal Distribution of Water: India receives nearly 4000 billion cubic metres of water through rainfall of which about 1999 BCM form available water in rivers, lakes, reservoirs, groundwater and glaciers.
- However, the distribution of this quantity is not uniform across the country. Some river basins are acutely drought prone, some other basins are frequently devastated by floods.
- Limited capacity: To address these spatial and temporal disparities, the available water should either be stored in reservoirs or transferred from surplus basins to deficit ones. However, both these options aren’t easily implementable owing to certain inherent limitations.
- Issues with reservoirs like long gestation period, management of environmental aspects, resettlement and rehabilitation processes.
- Moreover, a significant part of the reservoir storage capacity is lost through siltation which reduces the effective potential of the projects.
- Issues with Inter Basin transfers which often requires consensus building between governments of riparian states, environmentalists and other stakeholders.
- The amount of money & time invested in these projects is also huge.
Governmental Steps Taken:
- Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM): It aims to ensure functional household tap connections to all rural households by 2024. It has at present achieved about 51%
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY): Its ‘Per Drop More Crop’ component focuses on improving water use efficiency at farm level through micro-irrigation and better on-farm water management practices to optimize the use of available water resources.
- National Water Awards: Best practices for water conservation and enhancing water use efficiency are rewarded through the institution of `National Water Awards’.
- State Level interventions: Ban on early sowing of paddy by Haryana and Punjab; ‘Jai Hi Jeevan Hai’ Scheme by Haryana to incentivise growing less water intensive crops; and mandatory use of drip irrigation for sugarcane cultivation by Maharashtra Government are few steps towards ensuring sustainable water use in agriculture.
Water Resources Management is essential to address the acute water crisis, which is expected to get worse with climate change. The water use principles should uphold the spirit of inclusiveness and ensure that none is left behind, as envisaged in the Sustainable Development Goals.