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Not PM but DM can solve WATER CRISIS
LUCKNOW, THE Governor of Uttar Pradesh Mr. Moti Lal Vora has announced the formation of Water Development Authority to ensure regular supply of water to its residents. U.P. is no exception as far as the water shortage is concerned. From Udhampur to Kanyakumari and from Ahemdabad to Gauhati there is no town which can boast of round - the - clock water supply to its inhabitants.

Isn't it a shame that inspite of investing hundreds of crores of rupees the government has failed to provide drinking water to millions of voters. The rulers may boast of entering 21st century with Manmohan Singh's liberal economic policies but they have been unable to provide a basic necessity i.e. water. The acute water shortage is not only limited to summer days but it is now spilling over to the winters as well.

Water Wealth
India is one of those few countries which are generously blessed by nature in respect of water resources. Unlike the West Asian countries, who may have liquid gold i.e. petrol, but are compelled to import drinking water, India has plenty of it. We have dozens of perennial rivers flowing across the length and breadth of the country. We have snow clad Himalayas constantly feeding our rivers. We have hundreds of lakes and thousands of ponds scattered all over the country.

Yet the people of this country are thirsty. Yet there are disputes ver sharing of river water. Yet there are queues of people at the municipal taps. Yet there are millions of educated and well-off people, who have to spend several precious hours of a day to be able to fill a few buckets of water.
And this is happening in a country where exists an exclusive Ministry for Waters Resources Management. This is happening in a country in which massive dams were built with the assurance of abundance of water supply. This is happening in a country which has invited every possible water resources expert from anywhere in the world, but has not bothered to examine the indigenous ways and practices of water conservation.

India is placed among the top few nations who have more than sufficient water resources. The average annual rainfall in India 1,170 mm. In Central- West America, known as 'bread basket' of the world, the average rainfall is limited to mere 200mm per annum. Isn't our country immensely fortunate? Irony is that India suffers from one of the gravest water crisis. Projections are that even by the 2025 AD the century will not be able to utilize even one fourth of the total annual rain-fall.

Unestimated
The state of country's water management can be assessed from the fact that till date there is not a single extensive survey for calculating the real water-wealth of the country. In late 80s Central Sub-Soil Water Board has announced that by 1995 it would complete the water survey all over the country. However, a rough estimate indicates that the sub-soil water resource of the country is 10 times more than the annual rainfall that the country receives.

So far as the surface water is concerned, it has been estimated according to 1974 calculation, 40 crore Hecare Metre (CHM) water flowed over the country's land surface. Out of this only 3.80 CHM however could be used. This is just 9.5% of total available water resource. Experts predict even by 2025 AD the water utilization would not exceed 10.5 CHM. This is the maximum capacity utilization. How helpless are we Indians in the hands of our inefficient water resource mangers?
What is the cause of water shortage? At the root of the crisis lies the indiscriminate felling of trees. The water policy, if there is any such worthwhile thing, is moving in one direction and the problems are in other direction altogether. The wells, ponds or tube wells and small irrigation projects are being given completely step-motherly treatment.

One after another famous ponds, springs and lakes are drying up. Lakhs of fisherman are in dire state. Water's new management (mismanagement) have put our water bodies in the danger of drying up or destroyed in an insensitive condition.

On the other hand huge dams are being built through out the country, inspite of repeated failures to achieve targetd results. These dams, however modern one may describe them, in reality, have not been able to stop the annual devastating cycle of flood and drought, not to mention in-human uprooting of the people living in those area.

Demand
It is interesting to note that the main demand for water is for irrigation purpose. Of the total available water resource, around 90 percent is used for irrigation. Remaining 10 percent is used for domestic and industrial purpose. In several rural areas either there is no water or it is beyond their reach. Hence they have to work with minimum possible water. Supposingly by 2025 AD optimum quantity of water is made available for domestic and industrial use, still 73 percent of total available water would be used only for irrigation. Also it is predicted that annually around 8.6 to 10.5 CHM water could be made available for human use. But by 2025 AD when the use of water would diversify in different directions even this amount of water would fall short of the required need.

Studies have shown that as the industrial use of water will increase, poisoned industrial affluent would destroy the oxygen content of river water, impairing the life of aquatic beings. Effect is already visible in many parts of the country.

Why to blame the government alone, even the so-called educated and conscious people are completely ignorant about the causes of water crisis. Often they complain of lowering of water table yet they go on increasing the depth of their bores. It's pity that rich think that they can get unlimited water supply, forever, by boring the land. The practice began some fifty years ago. In 1950-51 it was planned to install around 5,000 tube-wells all over the country. The famine of 60s accelerated the installation rate. Whereas in 50s there were only 2000 tube-wells, with in a few years, there was a installation spree, which culminated in about 1, 72,000 tube-wells all over the country. In a country which is going to face such an acute water crisis in coming decades, it is of utmost importance that the underground water should be used efficiently and with caution.

The rapid expansion of tube-wells is due to two reasons. The process is much easy for availing water and its functioning is totally in the hands of people. In contrast canal water is manned by public servants, whose work is not only lopsided but is also drenched in corruption.

Falling Water Table
But tube-wells expansion also has negative side of it. Rapidity of expansion is matched by falling water table owing to increased sucking of water. Like any other resource, water too come to be misutilized unabashedly. Because of this water table went down at many places. What nature could replenish through its mechanism, water from its womb was sucked in greater quantity by human mechanism. This means that this valuable reservoir of water would go on shrinking.

The use of underground water for irrigation is curse. And at present many states are groping under this problem. Maharashtra is experiencing the curse as its cultivation of sugar cane is sucking up more water than any normal crop. As water table is sliding down, the number of problems are increasing rapidly.

As the tube-wells increased in number the practice f bringing water t dry zones of cities through tankers became common place. Those who can not buy high powered motors suffer acute crisis while residing in cities. Hyderabad receives its quota of water through railways. The city which is more politically powerful has the capacity to snatch water from other's quota, whatever may be the distance. Delhi sucks up all Yamuna water, leaving several cities in U.P. and Haryana, at the bank of Yamuna, completely dry. It is reliable learnt that Delhi is able to procure only 30% of water from its own resources another 40% is illegally diverted to it from U.P. and Haryana. Yet it is short of 30% than its need.

Secret agreement
It has been revealed by sources that a secret agreement look place between the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and the Chief Ministers of U.P. and Haryana, Mr. H.N. Bahuguna and Mr. Bansi Lal respectively, to share the Yamuna water to the detriment of the people of their states. If it is true and if the people of Haryana and U.P come to know about it and decide to stop this illegal diversion of water to Delhi then what will happen to Delhi.

The Greet Moghul Emperor Akbar built his capital at Fatehpur Sikri near Agra with great opulence. But due to shortage of water he had to abandon it within twelve years. What is the guarantee that Delhi will not have similar fate, asks Mr. Anupam Mishra of GPF, Delhi.

The tragedy is that no attempt is being made to preserve the age-old tradition of regarding ponds as sacred resources. The indigenous tradition of collecting rainwater in small ponds was left to itself during the colonial regime and even after independence the practice has not been given an encouraging face-lift.

Studies have revealed that 25 percent of total rain-fall can be usefully retained if only three percent of the total land, in every district, is used for making ponds. While making new ponds does not exist on the agenda of the ruling elite even the old ponds are being allowed to die. The increasing lust to acquire urban land for civic construction has further damaged the scenario District Development Authorities take pride in filling the existing ponds and converting into residential or commercial complex.

Traditional modes
There is hardly any city in the country where some 'tal', 'pokhar', 'sarowar', or 'Kund' did not exist. There used to be a small temple or mosque next to these ponds and a well under the banyan tree. The ponds helped in maintaining the sub-soil water and the wells provided drinking water. The religious structures were to ensure that no one pollutes the water. Right from birth to death every ceremony was performed near these ponds. They were part of our folk songs and culture. There existed an unbreakable bond between the people and the nature. The bond has been broken. It is has been replaced by a network of steel pipes which remain dry for most of the year or sometimes bring epidemic even in posh areas of South-Delhi.

In South India tank irrigation is extremely common. During colonial regime British irrigation specialists were astonished to see the traditional methods of irrigating land. These tanks were built and maintained by community. Several inscriptions on the walls of local temples describe in detail the methods of t tank management. In arid zones of Western Rajasthan the 'bawaris' and 'Kundis' formed the integral part of Rajputana architecture.

It is amazing to see how during subsequent drought years the people in this part could survive with preserved water in thee 'bawaris'. On the other hand the state government under IRDP tried to spread a network of water supply system through pipes and overhead tanks. Hundreds of crores were wasted. Hopes were raised, but th entire scheme collapsed in first summer itself when the tanks bursted due to excessive heat and pipes dried off. Disillusioned and frustrated folks were forced revive their age-old practice.

Darker future
Lamenting the past and ignoring the present will mean darker future. The need of the hour is to learn from our past follies. The govt. has to learn. The administrators have to learn. The self-proclaimed experts have to re-learn. But more than anyone else we the people have to learn. Water, that is the basic need for rich and poor, cannot be taken for granted.

From village to town level we have to ensure that no pond is filled with soil. No pond is filled with garbage. No. Development Authority dares to destroy the ponds. We have to dig more ponds. If only an imaginative and committed district administrator decides to repair the damage he can enthuse a philanthropic individual and organizations to act in restring the conventional methods of water management.

We have to clean our wells. We have to check the insensitive use of water. It is said that 'atom bomb may not destroy the world but flush system may'. Imagine how many liters of clean water is wasted to wash off half-a-liter of urine in a commode. The simple principle is if we take something from the nature then we should be able to return that. Unfortunately today when the country has disentangled itself from its colonial regime the 'democratic' edifice that came to be substituted still stands on the same zeal of 'modernizing India'.

 
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