India is facing increasing water stress, leading to a rise in quick-fix solutions by non-profits and civil society organizations. While these solutions may provide immediate relief, it is crucial to assess their long-term sustainability. Careful examination and adoption of strategies that can withstand future challenges are necessary.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- Quick-fix Water Solutions and Their Limitations
- Evaluation of Quick-fix Water Solutions Initiatives
- Challenges in Quick-Fix Solutions in Water Management
- Government Initiatives to Tackle India’s Water Crisis
Quick-fix Water Solutions and Their Limitations
River Widening, Deepening, and Straightening:
- Modification of natural watercourses to increase water-carrying capacity.
- Provides short-term relief but may not solve larger water management issues.
Water Harvesting Competitions:
- Encouraging communities to harvest rainwater and adopt water-saving practices.
- Limited impact without comprehensive water management strategies.
Tree Planting Along Riverbanks:
- Stabilizes soil and prevents erosion.
- May not fully address larger water management issues.
Rapid Construction of Water Facilities:
- Quick establishment of water facilities like sewage treatment plants and water grids.
- Requires sustainable management to combat depletion.
- Injecting water into underground aquifers to replenish groundwater levels.
- Requires careful monitoring and management to be effective in the long term.
- Converting seawater into freshwater to meet coastal water needs.
- Energy-intensive and expensive, making it less viable in some areas.
Evaluation of Quick-fix Water Solutions Initiatives
Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan:
- Maharashtra government’s initiative (2014) aimed at achieving a drought-free state by 2019 through various measures like river widening, deepening, and straightening, check dams, and desilting.
- Criticisms: Considered unscientific and ecologically damaging, leading to erosion, loss of biodiversity, and increased flood risk.
- A competition initiated by a non-profit organization in 2016 to incentivize water harvesting in Maharashtra villages for drought-proofing.
- Criticisms: Questioned for overlooking water quality, groundwater impact, social equity, and maintenance mechanisms, raising doubts about its validity and long-term sustainability.
Challenges in Quick-Fix Solutions in Water Management:
- Rapid interventions like river widening and deepening can lead to ecological damage.
- Erosion, sedimentation, and loss of biodiversity can result from hasty projects.
Lack of Stakeholder Consultation:
- Quick-fix approaches may lack adequate participation and consultation with stakeholders.
- Neglecting the social dimension can lead to resistance and conflicts.
Influence of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Funding:
- Relying on CSR funding can limit decision-making freedom.
- Prioritization of projects influenced by donor interests rather than community needs.
Overlooking Groundwater Management:
- Focus on surface water solutions may overlook the critical role of groundwater.
- Groundwater recharge and management are crucial for sustainable water supply.
Misalignment with Community and Environmental Interests:
- Some state projects may not align with community and environmental interests.
- Examples include riverfront development, centralized sewage treatment, and massive water grids.
- A shift in mindset from in-depth analysis and understanding to a “techno-managerial approach.”
- This can lead to overlooking important socio-economic and ecological aspects related to water management.
Government Initiatives to Tackle India’s Water Crisis:
Atal Bhujal Yojana:
- Targets water-stressed areas in several states for sustainable groundwater management.
- Involves local communities and scientific methods to manage groundwater demand.
Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA):
- Regulates and controls groundwater usage by industries, mining, and infrastructure projects.
- Issues No Objection Certificates (NOCs) in line with guidelines to ensure responsible water usage.
National Aquifer Mapping Program (NAQUIM):
- Implemented by the Central Ground Water Board to map aquifers across the country.
- Provides data and management plans to States/UTs for informed interventions.
Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Groundwater- 2020:
- Prepared in collaboration with States/UTs for rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge structures.
- Aims to harness 185 billion Cubic Meters of water, promoting water conservation and recharge.
-Source: Down To Earth