Daily Current Affairs – 20th August, 2016

Daily Current Affairs – 20th August, 2016

No getting away from water scarcity

Summer and Water- Crucial links

  • As soon as the summer arrives every year, there are heartening stories about the water woes of people in the country.
  • For the time being, all temporary and permanent innovative solutions are discussed to solve the problem.
  • However, once the monsoon arrives, all is forgotten.
  • Depleting water resources is not a concern of a season.
  • With increased monsoon unpredictability followed by wide spatial distribution of rainfall resulting into draught and flood in same year is a grave issue.
  • In such a situation, long term water management, water conservation planning is needed and not seasonal approaches
  • World Resources Institute (2015): about 54 per cent of India is water stressed. The water scarcity is affecting every part of the country
  • A recent global study found that: two-third of the global population lives with severe water scarcity for at least one month every year. More alarmingly, nearly half of those people live in India and China.
  • World Bank estimate: By 2030, India’s per capita water availability may shrink to half from the 2010 level of 1,588 cubic metres per year.
  • This will push India from ‘water scarce’ category to the ‘water stress’ category
  • World Bank Report (2016): High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy cautions: Countries that lack a sufficient amount of water could see their GDPs decline by as much as six per cent by 2050.

Major Crisis

  • Central Water Commission (2016): Live storage available in the 91 reservoirs was 54.419 BCM, which is much less compared to last year’s storage position of 59.100 BCM
  • Perennial rivers such as the Ganga, Godavari and Krishna have dried up at various locations.
  • Scientific study 2015: Water level in the Indus Basin is falling by 4-6 mm/year, while the Ganges-Brahmaputra Basin is falling by 15-20 mm/year.
  • India’s agriculture sector withdraws a considerable amount of water from these two giant groundwater aquifers. Hence, their rapid depletion is worrying.
  • Standing Committee on Water Resources– “Repair, Renovation and Restoration of Water Bodies” (2012-13): Municipalities and Panchayats have encroached upon small water bodies that help to capture, conserve and store whatever little rainfall the region receives.
  • Dams’ storage capacity is decreasing because of accumulation of silt for several years
  • CWC: average dry density of deposited sediment was about 1191 kg/cu m in 21 reservoirs.

 

Unconventional response

  • India experienced its worst hydrological crisis in Summer of 2016
  • The water level in the 91 major reservoirs of the country was alarmingly low.
  • More than a quarter of country’s population, spread across 254 districts in 10 States, was affected.
  • In western India, Maharashtra and Gujarat’s small and medium reservoirs were completely dried up.
  • In southern India, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were declared drought-hit.
  • The unconventional response taken by government included
    • Railway wagons were deployed to transport about 500,000 litres of water a day across the Deccan plateau traversing more than 300 km to provide relief to the drought-stricken district of Latur in Maharashtra.
    • The authorities in Latur invoked Section 144 of CrPCà it barred the assembling of more than five persons near wells and water collecting sources to prevent problems.
  • However, the unconventional solutions are not permanent answers to increasing water availability problems

Agriculture’s stressful trend

  • CWC’s report (1993): rapid growth in population + increasing economic activities= tremendous pressure on the available water resources
  • Sadly, 23 years later, the same man-made factors are held responsible for the ongoing water crisis.
  • Climate change is not to be blamed alone when indiscriminate groundwater withdrawals for irrigating water guzzling crops is always reported.
  • India has to worry about its water scarcity more than any other country in the world
  • Reason: India has an agrarian economy, where agriculture has close nexus with abundant water needs.
  • Farmers are finding it difficult to manage their crop cycles due to non-availability of water.
  • Unavailability of water is one of the main reasons of farmer suicides, particularly in many regions of Maharashtra
  • Farmers from Marathwada are forced to migrate to other parts of the State in search of jobs.
  • Census (2011): number of farmers in India has decreased by about nine million in the past 10 years.
  • The critical consequence will be: India’s food security will be at stake with the subsequent decline in the area under cultivation and crop production.

 

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