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.
The hundreds of millions of Indians migrating from villages to cities require up to a billion square yards of new real estate development annually. Current construction already draws more than 800 million tons of sand every year, mostly from India’s waterways. All the people I spoke to assumed that much of it is taken illegally.
Deepa Bhasthi writes in The Guardian: The illegal dumping of waste mixed with mass untreated sewage in Bangalore is creating a water crisis which threatens residents’ health–and is causing the city’s famous lakes to catch fire. This is the new story of the city, which some scientists believe will be “unliveable” in a few years.
India Water Portal reports: The year 2016 was an abysmal year in terms of environmental policy and conservation in India. There were also many initiatives worth talking about. Any initiative, however, is only as good as those managing it. Here we talk about four people in the country who made news for their water-related actions.
The Modi government had come with the promise of a better future for India’s rivers. Unfortunately, the promise remains unfulfilled, and there seems to be no roadmap in sight for our rivers. There’s nothing in the policies, plans or projects of the current government that would provide any ray of hope, now or in future.
Nityanand Jayaraman writes: The complexity of river systems, the hydrological dynamics that determine their ebb and flow, and anthropogenic confounders such as land-use change and climate change had no influence on the tribunal order… Today’s planners try to spare water for ecological flows, not realising that ecological flows are what keep the river a river.
Chetan Chauhan reports: Maharashtra and Rajasthan have started community based Jal Swabhilambhan schemes that give ownership of government-aided watershed management to the communities. “We just aid and assist the villagers in creating durable water assets. The villages decide what they want,” said Sriram Vedire of Rajasthan Water Authority, who initiated the programme in early 2016.
Yesterday, with protests over the Cauvery water dispute bringing Bangalore to its knees, many of the city’s techno-optimists found themselves stranded on its burning roads, like bunnies caught in headlights. It might just be another sign that ‘life as we know it’ is about to change forever, both in India and the world, writes Vijay Kundaji.
Live Mint reports: This is not a one-off dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu— the latest flare-up puts the spotlight on the growing incidence of water wars among states and, in some instances, within regions in a state. Riparian states warring over water is not new— nearly every river in the Indian subcontinent is contested.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In his recent monthly address on radio, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “there’s close linkage between drought and environmental degradation and there’s a need for a mass movement to save forests and to conserve every drop of water.” The statement does recognise the problem but do the government’s policies and its implementation reflect these concerns?
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.
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 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.