After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Introduction to Indian Scenario of Water Resources 2. Water Resource Exploitation—Use and over use 3. Flood 4. Drought 5. Dam—Benefits and Conflicts 6. Water Sharing Conflict 7. National Water Policy (2002) 8. Integrated Water Management.
Introduction to Indian Scenario of Water Resources:
India has 2.45 per cent of the world’s landmass supporting 16 per cent of the world’s population whereas the freshwater resources are only 4 per cent of that of the world.
The average annual precipitation, including snowfall, received in the country is 4000 bcm.
Of this, the average annual water availability in the river-systems of the country is assessed at 1,869 bcm.
The usable surface water is 690 bcm and replenish-able groundwater is 432 bcm. Thus total usable water is around 1,122 bcm.
There has been a considerable development of water resources since independence. With less than 293 large dams at the time of independence, the number of dams has grown to more than 4000 at present. This will provide a storage capacity of about 252 bcm against that of less than 16 bcm at the time of independence.
At present countries irrigation potential is about 94 million hectares (m.ha) against 22.6 m.ha before the first five year plan. At the time of commencement of the first five year plan in 1951, the annual food grain production was only 51 million tonnes which at present is more than 210 million tonnes. Out of 40 m.ha of flood prone area in the country, about 15 m.ha has since then been well protected.
At present, average annual per capita availability of water for the country as a whole is about 1,820 cubic meter as against 5177 cubic meter in 1951 (Table 6.6). Due to large variation of rainfall in space and rime, some areas have relatively less per capita water availability. Arid and semi and regions of the country are prone to repeated drought conditions.
We must aim for an equitable economic growth for all round development and poverty alleviation, through efficient use and continued sustainable development of water resources with emphasis on peoples participation. This will help India emerge stronger in the 21st century.
Although irrigation will continue to be the major consumer of water in coming times, its share in the total water use may reduce while the share of water use for domestic, industrial and energy purposes will rise due to urbanisation and industrialisation.
The requirement of water for other uses such as navigation, ecological and recreation, although not so significant in terms of consumptive use, will continue to be important and will have specific quantity and temporal needs.
Therefore, long term perspective planning for sustainable development of water resources in a holistic and integrated manner, with emphasis on more efficient use is necessary to achieve the goal of economic prosperity.
Water Resource Exploitation—Use and over use:
India is rich in surface water resources. Average annual rainwater discharge into river is about 1880 bcm, which is about 1/3rd of the total rainfall. Because of temporal and spatial variation of rainfall pattern in the country, some part experience drought and while in other parts, there may be severe flood at a time. Thus water resource management will be a great challenges for India in future (Table 6.7).
In India over 75% available fresh water is used in agricultural practices. Such a demand for agricultural irrigation needs to be reviewed and efficient irrigation planning, crop scheduling and use of wastewater irrigation in agriculture should be examined seriously.
This is a recurring phenomenon in several states of India. Out of the country’s total geographical area of 329 m.ha, 40 m.ha is prone to floods. In-spite of considerable measures, flood devastation in Assam, north Bihar, in parts of UP, WB, Orissa and Punjab, are major problem still exit.
The National Programme for Hood management now targeted to help the state government to take up long term effective management of flood control in problem areas. The Central water commission is engaged in flood forecasting on inter-state river basins through 161 stations out of which 134 are- river level forecasting stations and 27 inflow forecasting stations on major dams/barrage throughout the country.
It is well known that rainfall pattern is highly variable in different states as well as year to year variation is also quite significant. An overview of rainfall pattern of India is shown in Table 6.8.
So, by and large in states or regions having low rainfall particularly during monsoon spell, drought situation often prevailed. Surface water diversion through canals and ground water development in some places help in mitigation of problems partially.
The ‘National Commission for Integrated Water Resources Development Plan’, which was constituted in September 1996, submitted its re-port to the Union Government in December 1999 and made several recommendations for development of water resources for drinking, irrigation, industrial, flood control, transfer of surplus water to deficit areas and so on.
Dam—Benefits and Conflicts:
Construction of “Dam” is one of the major activities for water resource management in different parts of the world. For multipurpose water resource development such as flood intigation, water resource storage and diversion for irrigation and community water supply and also for hydel power generation, the creation of water reservoir and dam in river basin area is a major activity. For a long time, creation of “Dam” symbolized as integrated water resource development planning components.
With the passage of time, it was realised that mega dam all over the world have several negative impact on Environment and human community in and around. As a consequence, anti-dam movement started against the creation of any mega dam project. Several thousand of “Environmental Refugee” was created due to a number of large- dam projects.
Water Sharing Conflict:
Sustained water supply in major rivers and its distributaries in dry months is a major concern which induces conflicts between two neighbouring states or countries. Thus there were a number of international treaties made over the years on water sharing viz., India—Bhutan Cooperation, India-Bangladesh cooperation, India-Nepal cooperation and Waters treaty between India-Pakistan.
All these treaties involve the setting up of joint teams for hydro meteorological and flood forecasting network on rivers and also their water sharing issues. Periodically all the treaties were re-evaluated. Identically inter-state water sharing issues now come up very much in news headlines, due to disagreement on water discharge from various dams during dry months.
This problem is very serious in southern and north-western states. Central water commission (CWC), New Delhi is responsible for initiating coordination with the state governments concerned, schemes for the control, conservation and utilisation of water resources for the purpose of flood management, irrigation, navigation and water power generation throughout the country.
There are also a number of tribunals for resolving inter-state water disputes:
(i) The Godavari water Disputes Tribunal,
(ii) The Krishna-water Disputes Tribunal,
(iii) The Narmada water Disputes Tribunal,
(iv) The Ravi and Beas water Disputes Tribunal, and
(v) The Cauvery water Disputes Tribunal.
National Water Policy (2002):
This policy was adopted by the National Water Resources Council. The policy envisages the formulation of a State water policy and preparation of an operational action plan in a time bound manner to achieve the desired objectives. The developmental strategy includes many effective water conservation and management plans as a component of the long term perspective planning of water resources.
The following activities were suggested in perspective planning:
1. Stakeholder’s participation in optimum utilisation of water resources, and its development as state govt. have inadequate fund to maintain such facilities. This includes participatory irrigation management.
2. Renovation and modernisation of irrigation projects is essential as the average water use efficiency of irrigation projects (2003) is about 20 to 40 for canal water and about 60% for ground water irrigation schemes. This situation can be improved by better management and upgradation of the system to realise optimum benefits; and through mitigation of the consequential side effects like water logging and inequity in supply of water to tail end reaches.
3. Preservation and maintenance of quality of water resources are very important for various kinds of water uses. Contaminated ground water quality can be improved by rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge.
4. Watershed management is one of the major useful methods of providing sustainable irrigation. It also helps in soil erosion control and water conservation.
5. Rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharging are two very important interlinked processes of water conservation, when there is a danger signal of groundwater depletion.
6. Interlinking of rivers is another significant proposal of water distribution in a countrywide network. However environmentalists opposed this idea due to several reasons specially due to the misleading concept of surplus water.
7. Flood management includes water storage, dispersion and early evaluation of water logging areas. Long term planning for such a situation is highly essential in flood prone areas.
8. Mass awareness campaign for water conservation is extremely essential otherwise any amount of water development will not be sufficient for requirement of the society. How to save water in the household level? This should be explained to every citizen. The details are given in Table 6.9.
Integrated Water Management:
Fresh water crisis is now a global phenomena. Thus there is a great need for integrated water resource management in terms of water collection, storage, efficient use and recycle of wastewater.
To meet future needs, urban, agricultural and national interests will need to deal with a number or issues such as the following:
1. Increased demand for water will generate pressure to divert water to highly populated areas or areas capable of irrigated agriculture.
2. Increased demand for water will force increased treatment and reuse of existing water supplies.
3. In many areas where water is used for irrigation, evaporation of water from the soil over many years results in a buildup of salt in the soil. When the water used to flush the salt from the soil is returned to a stream, the quality of the water is lowered.
4. In some areas, wells provide water for all categories of use. If the groundwater is pumped out faster than it is replaced, the water table is lowered.
5. In coastal areas, sea-water may intrude into the aquifers and ruin the water supply.
6. The demand for water-based recreation is increasing dramatically and requires high quality water, especially for activities involving total body contact, such as bathing and swimming.
By and large water management is one of the major concern of any country which needs much more comprehensive planning on a long term basis.