April 11, 2012

Water Management – Today’s need for sustainable development

The basic needs of human being is food, apparel, and shelter. Even though these are the basic needs but human being cannot sustain/survive without water. Water is a small and very simple word (Pani – jal – neer) but it covers whole Earth. In science, water is known as H2O, which is made up of 2 atoms of Hydrogen and 1 atom Oxygen but scientist cannot generate water molecule in laboratory till date. This means, for water, we have to be dependent  on natural sources. If we exploit the water as we are exploiting it today then one day the natural sources of water will be exhausted.

An importance of water is well-explained in our mythology. Water is mentioned numerous times in the Bible, for example: "The earth was formed out of water and by water" (NIV). In the Qur'an, it is stated that "Living things are made of water" and also it is often used to describe Paradise. In Sanskrit, the water word is synonymical for jivan (life). Also, in economics terminology water is phrased as Blue Gold.

 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by water.  Oceans hold 97% of surface water which is saline water, and only 3% is fresh water. Out of 3% of fresher water, 2.4 % is in the form of glaciers and polar ice caps, and other land surface water such as rivers, lakes and ponds is only 0.6%. This means, we only have 0.6% of total present water on the Earth.

India has 17% population compared to world. We have only 4% water and 2.5% land availability as compared to whole world. In Indian context, population-water-land ratio is very contradictory. Indian economy is developing stage, and water is very important indicator for growth of country.

United Nations declared that safe and clean drinking water is a human right. But according to UN’s WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 40 report, one of sixth people in world does not get safe drinking water to drink. United Nation’s report (2006) states that “there is enough water for everyone”, but the access (availability) of the water is hampered by mismanagement and corruption problems.

I want to point out one example of improper management and one proper management of water. Cherrapunji is known as wettest place in India which receives 11,777 mm rainfall, even though Cherrapunji is facing water scarcity problems. In contrast to that some places of Rajasthan state is getting low rainfall but the people learned the proper management techniques of water conservation and they are enjoying enough water for their use

80% of total water is consumed by agriculture sector and remaining 20% of water is used for drinking, industry, and etc. But agriculture sector contributes only about 23% to our GDP. This points out that, there is mismanagement in utilization of water in agriculture sector. Green revolution increased productivity but what about sustainable development? Will there be water to feed crops? As a largest stakeholders in water consumption, farmers of India can play crucial role in water management. By adopting advanced techniques for irrigation like drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, farm ponding, and etc.

Now-a-days monsoon is very irregular. Due to irregularity of monsoon, there are sometime lots of water but sometimes there is no water. But what about the areas who receive average rainfall? We get rain water in 4 months and we need to use that water for whole year. But are we storing/managing that water properly? No, we don’t. That’s why this water flows away and meets this fresh water to some sea (saline water).Due to global warming, polar glaciers are melting and increasing the sea water level. If we properly conserved rainwater in the earth which is flowing to the sea, then we can postpone the sea flooding effect(climate change).

I really appreciate the steps taken by the Indian government in the form of watershed management, river linking and irrigation projects. In 12th plan, the planning commission will have major focus on water management. Also, government is funding lots of money to NGO’s, to research and implement watershed management projects. 

When I was child, government started National Literacy Mission to literate Indian citizens. After that government started e-literacy (cyber-literacy), now time comes government should start mega-mission of water literacy (Jal Saksharata). Under this mission, government should aware people about proper water utilization and management.

In 2009, I attended Jal sahitya sambelan where I came across a buzz word (Jal Sakshar) that is very much important for sustainable development of the nation. Today, at least 5/6th of world’s population is getting safe drinking water but what about next generation? Will they get safe or unsafe water?

Like farmers, women can play critical role in proper management of water. I want to focus 2 main things for women. First, women have whole day relation with water. All women use water for every day’s household activates. If they critically understood the need of water management then they can save plenty of water by reducing the use of water and reusing it. And second, according to me, woman plays key role in teaching moral values to her children than man. Once I read an article in Lokmant’s Manthan supplement, that article is based on real story of woman from Nasik and her child (who was 8th std. student). In that article, she said that, her child is average in education, but one day, when she was washing the dishes, he came and asked why are you wasting so much of water? She was wedged. By that incidence, that woman understands what wrong she was doing. Also she gave his 2-3 examples of recycling and littering. She feels proud for her child and she ends her article by saying “my child is not good at education but my child will become good citizen of our country”. In this example child taught her mother but if every woman is able to give such moral values to her children then at least next generation will not exploit such natural resources and use it critically.

American secret agency has given treat warning of war for water in next 10 years. I think that is why, visionary American president John F Kennedy said that the one who will solve the problem of water, that person should get 2 Nobel prizes – one is for science and other is for peace. Also in 1995 the World Bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin quoted the prediction for the new millennium: “If the wars of this century were fought for oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water”.

NOTE: The World Bank predicts that by 2025 about two-thirds of the world’s population will suffer from scarcity of clean and safe water even for drinking purposes.

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