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How Bidar beat back the drought

From The Hindu: Bidar’s Naubad karez, or tunnel wells, are an ancient engineering marvel. It’s a complex system, which works inversely underground to leverage gravity — that is, the plateau’s natural gradient ascends from the mouth to the mother well but the tunnel underneath has been cut to descend from the mother well to the mouth.

Study: A minor change in your diet can reduce water use for agriculture

A new modeling study published in The Lancet suggests that India’s agricultural need for water can be met if Indians introduce minor diet changes. Research team leader Alan Dangour tells Down to Earth that “dietary change is a potential way to improve resilience of the Indian food system in the face of future groundwater decline.”

What does it mean for a river to have rights?

From The Hindu: The rights do not stem from an intrinsic identity or status of the river, but more from their use for humans; and giving them ‘personhood’ or legal status makes it very human-centred. Can rivers not be recognised as having identity, worth, dignity, and rights as intrinsic qualities, not because they serve us?

El Salvador makes history as first nation to impose blanket ban on metal mining

The Guardian reports: El Salvador has made history after becoming the first country in the world to ban metal mining. Cristina Starr, from Radio Victoria, said: “Today water won over gold. This historic victory is down to the clarity and determination of the Salvadoran people fighting for life over the economic interests of a few.”

A first: Indian court declares Ganga, Yamuna as living legal entities

Live Mint reports: The Uttarakhand high court has recognized the Ganga and the Yamuna as so-called living entities, giving the rivers that have seen years of damage, a legal voice. Animals, for instance, aren’t considered living entities by law. It’s the first time a court has recognized a non-human as a living entity in India.

‘Ganga, Yamuna are drains, no party cares’

The Third Pole reports: Over 140 million people are eligible to vote as Uttar Pradesh —the land of the Ganga and the Yamuna— goes to polls. Everybody agrees that the poison affects drinking water and irrigation. Still, the apathy is mirrored in town after town in eastern UP. Candidates rarely address it in their campaigns.

Tribute: T. Hanumantha Rao, champion of water management alternatives

T. Hanumantha Rao, irrigation engineering expert and the brain behind a participative method of water management based on his ‘Four Waters’ concept, passed away on Sunday. The Four Waters concept, explained in this video, brought rich benefits to Rajasthan, where even drought-affected areas improved over the years. Several other states are actively pursuing his recommendations.

Tribute: Anupam Mishra, the chronicler of India’s indigenous water wisdom

Noted water conservationist Anupam Mishra passed away at the age of 68 on Monday. Here’s a tribute and a video where he talks with wisdom and wit about the amazing feats of engineering from centuries ago by the people of India’s desert regions to harvest water. These ancient aqueducts and stepwells are still used today.

What you need to know about the world’s water wars

National Geographic reports: Around the world, alarms are being sounded about groundwater depletion. Underground water is being pumped so aggressively globally that land is sinking, civil wars are being waged, and agriculture is being transformed. According to scientist Jay Famiglietti, the areas where aquifiers are under the greatest threat are also the most heavily populated.

How to achieve sustainable clean water for everyone

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the one-size-fits-all approach of centralised infrastructure and instead pursue a suite of solutions tailored to local needs. Could it be possible to have water systems that have no adverse impact on the environment? Such a transformation will require new technology but also new ways for people to interact with water.

Droughts and floods: India’s water crises demand more than grand projects

Bhaskar Vira writes: Water is an issue that cuts across all aspects of social and economic life in India. Compartmentalised responses are unlikely to adequately address the current crises. There is a need for an integrated approach, which addresses source sustainability, land use management, agricultural strategies, demand management and the distribution and pricing of water.

How Rain Water Harvesting can stem Hyderabad’s water crisis

Mayank Ale writes: There is an acute shortage of water in Hyderabad. Today Hyderabad receives water from 4 rivers – Musi, Krishna, Godavari and Manjeera. With 2 of the 4 rivers, Manjeera and Musi, drying up due to over usage, the city is facing acute water shortage and are getting water from farther and  farther away.

Series: Combating drought – 3: Traditional methods to the rescue

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.

Series: Combating drought – 2: Success stories

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.

Series: Combating drought – 1: What the experts say

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.

Four critical voices on India’s perennial drought problem

Many parts of India is in the grip of severe drought, some for the third consecutive year, leading to growing hunger, mass migration, water conflicts and farmer suicides. We present four well-known voices – Yogendra Yadav, Jean Dreze, Sunita Narain and the late Anil Agarwal –  on India’s perennial drought problem, its causes and possible solutions.

NEWS UPDATE #90

Nikhil Dey & Aruna Roy writes: The cynical attitude towards the MGNREGA is an example of how policymakers are deliberately — by squeezing funds and subverting the legal mandate of the law — causing immeasurable misery and suffering. Through the fund squeeze, the government has consciously crippled the MGNREGA’s ability to help people facing drought.

Why we must have water budgets

Techno-economic fixes do not address the underlying “zero-sum game” nature of water resource use. Ultimately, the problem is that of allocating the water available each year among users — both people and the ecosystem. Without understanding how much water is available, how much is used and by whom, solving India’s water crisis will be impossible.

How the coal industry is deepening the global water crisis

The high water intensity of global energy generation is leading to water-coal conflict caused by coal power production. Greenpeace International has prepared a groundbreaking analysis of the impacts of the world’s coal power plants on global water resources. The world’s coal power plants are consuming water that could meet the basic requirements for nearly 1 billion people.

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