Hari Pulakkat writes: The country’s water data has been largely hidden from public view, and what was available was poor or untrustworthy. This brings up a question rarely asked by policymakers. If scientists find it difficult to analyse the country’s water resources at the moment, how valid are the reports that forecast India’s water future?
Mongabay reports: Since the Green Revolution, Indian farmers have depended on groundwater to grow enough crops to feed the country’s 1.3 billion people, but groundwater is vanishing in many parts of the country. This combination of overpumping and climate change– resulting in weaker monsoons– is partly what’s driving social disruption, including violent protests and suicides.
From Policy Forum: India is now facing a water situation that is significantly worse than anything previous generations ever faced. All water bodies near population centres are now grossly polluted. Interstate disputes over river water allocations are becoming increasingly intense. Surface water conditions in the country are bad. However, the groundwater situation is even worse.
Down to Earth reports: Severe dry spells in Indian forests have hit the livelihood of more than 100 million people. But India simply does not acknowledge this drought. There’s no official nomenclature for forest droughts, nor any official plan to deal with them. So, while a farmer gets compensation for failed crops, forest-dwellers receive nothing.
From Ruralindiaonline.org: Rampant deforestation, extensive damming of the rivers, huge diversions of water for industrial projects and even elite resorts can be seen across the state. All these underlie Maharashtra’s terrible water crisis. They won’t get washed away by the monsoon, even if the media coverage of it dries up with onset of the rains.
Osama Manzar writes: As part of a digital literacy project in Maharashtra, rural students identified the following major consequences of drought— lack of water for basic needs, irregular supply of drinking water by government authorities, supply of unhygienic water, shortage of fodder for cattle, unemployment, health issues and lack of awareness about water conservation schemes.
Catch News reports: In a new initiative by Speaker Ram Niwas Goel, proceedings for the day at the Delhi Assembly were kickstarted by a lecture series. The first lecture was delivered by veteran journalist P. Sainath, who spoke on ‘Water and Farm Crisis in India’, which he said were the defining crises of our times.
Archana Mishra writes: Authorities failed to use MGNREGA and NFSA provisions meant for relief in difficult times. Even delayed wage payments forced downtrodden farmers to migrate towards cities. The national average of MGNREGA wages delayed beyond the statutory limit of 15 days is 62 percent of all wage payments for 2015-16, an RTI query revealed.
A resident of Pune, Maharashtra’s second-most developed city, uses five times as much water as her counterpart in Latur, the district most ravaged by drought in south-central Marathwada region. That’s the extent of water inequality in Maharashtra, according to a new analysis, characterised by disproportionate availability and consumption of water across regions, crops and consumers.
Shripad Dharmadhikary reports: As the summer has progressed, stories of the impacts of drought and water scarcity have been coming up, mostly highlighting the conditions of farmers, cattle and problems of domestic water supplies in villages, towns and cities. However, what’s not reported is the situation with industries, particularly the coal based thermal power plants.
While the economy has achieved resilience from drought impact, rural communities across the country continue to face the wrath of monsoon failure, leading to distressed selling of lands, movable assets, and migration. This is aggravating poverty of the people affecting their nutritional standards rendering them more vulnerable to disease and ill-health and loss of productivity.
India has an extreme air pollution problem, which kills up to 400,000 people every year. This pollution, made up of fine particles called aerosols, also has the effect of cooling the local climate by reflecting or absorbing sunlight before it reaches the ground. It is feasible that India’s pollution problem has been “hiding” extreme heat spikes.
The PM patted his own back for meeting the CMs of drought affected states. What he did not mention that the CMs were given much less than what they needed and asked for from the National Disaster Response Fund, that too after considerable delays. The MNREGA too is starved of funds by the central government.
India is reeling under a back-to-back drought, with 10 states declared affected and nearly 2,00,000 villages affected, and shredding the social fabric in affected areas. In this concluding part of our series on combating drought, we present examples where traditional methods for water harvesting have been successfully put to use by communities to drought-proof themselves.
As India reels under a back-to-back drought, with 10 states declared affected and nearly 2,00,000 villages affected, it’s time to ask whether the present situation could’ve been avoided. And yet, here are examples from across India where, armed with little more than determination and imagination, ordinary people have turned things around to create little oases.
As India reels under a back-to-back drought, with 10 states declared affected and nearly 2,00,000 villages affected, it’s time to ask whether the present situation could’ve been avoided. As many expert voices presented here point out, it’s not the weather alone that creates a drought, but bad planning and an often corrupt and apathetic administration.
Environmental activist and water expert Himanshu Thakkar tells Business Standard that India needs a comprehensive water use policy immediately. Making it clear that India is facing its worst drought ever, he says: “I do not think it is statement of pessimism but possibly reflects a reality. What we are seeing this year is unprecedented in many respects.
Speaking at a National Consultation on Drought, journalist P. Sainath explains how India’s ‘thirst economy’ makes profits. “If we think we are facing is only a drought, we’re in serious trouble. You’re in the midst of a mega water crisis,” he says, debunking the idea that a good monsoon will solve India’s crippling water crisis.
In the past, water scarcity was a constraint that inspired communities to conserve water, devising locally appropriate technologies to share resources. Rajasthan’s baolis and Tamil Nadu’s eris are just two of the many traditional water harvesting systems that survive to this day. However, they have been sidelined by spectacular state projects such as large dams.
With the drought scorching the world and the rest of India refusing to let up, Agumbe in Shimoga district of Karnataka, known as the ‘Cherrapunji of the the South’ for the abundant rainfall it receives, is experiencing water scarcity this year. In nearby Kerala, perennial rivers like the Pamba and Kabini have gone dry, affecting thousands.