[Solved] In what way can floods be converted into a sustainable source of irrigation and all weather inland navigation in India? ( UPSC GS-1 mains 2017)

[Solved] In what way can floods be converted into a sustainable source of irrigation and all weather inland navigation in India?  ( UPSC GS-1 mains 2017)

The term flood is generally used when the water-flows in rivers, streams and other water bodies cannot be contained. Floods occur regularly in India affecting about 12% of area.

Floods as sustainable source of irrigation

• Reducing run-off

– Infiltration method through afforestation

– Through digging wells

– Biopore infiltration method

• Reducing flood peaks by volume reduction

– By constructing dams and detention basins

– Marshy areas, old quarries and mines can act as detention basins

• Reducing flood level

– Stream channelization (close network of canals reduces flood hazard)

• Flood diversion

– It includes diverting flood water in marshes, depressions and spreading it thinly over paddy fields

and dry lands E.g. Ghaggar Reversion Scheme.

Flood as all-weather inland navigation

• By the method of network of canals from the flood prone rivers the water in canal can also be used

for inland navigation.

• Interlinking of rivers will help in pan India development of inland navigation.

• Channel improvement can also be done by deepening, widening, straightening, lining and cleaning

out of vegetation and debris from river channel

A major portion of the territory of India experiences flood during monsoon season in June-July. And several other places like Uttarakhand experience the same due to abrupt rainfall.

The incidents eventually cause surface runoff, crop damage, wealth, and life losses. It could be avoided by the following methods

  • Inter-basin transfer: It is the moving of the water from a surplus area to a shortage area. India has been practicing the method for a long time. Some of the examples in India are the Beas-Sutlej link project, Ken-Betwa link project, Telugu Ganga Project, etc. It also helps in the development of inland navigation.
  • Barrage and Dams: During monsoon season, dams and barrages store excess water to prevent floods. Later it releases the water in a regulated manner or uses it in power generation (In the case of Dams). For example, Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) was set up in 1948 by following the Tennessee Valley Authority in the USA. The main objective of DVC was flood control but it has been generating and transmitting power since 1953.
  • Rain-water harvesting: Rainwater harvesting is the collection and storage of rainwater to use it in the future for different purposes. The rain-water can be stored in wells, tanks. Countries like China, Argentina, and Brazil practice rooftop rainwater harvesting to use it for drinking, irrigation and to avoid the depletion of groundwater.
  • Irrigation: Some of the south Indian states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu are heavily drought-prone. River interlinking projects could transfer direct water to those areas or the barrage could store water for future uses. It would definitely be beneficial to maintain continuous agricultural growth.
  • All the methods stated above could have the ability to convert floods into sustainable sources of irrigation and all-weather inland navigation in India.
  • India experiences monsoons for a period of four months during which sometimes incessant rains cause floods and devastation, while for the rest of the year it remains dry for most parts, often resulting in water shortages. This excess flood water can surely be used as a valuable resource in water scarce regions for the non-monsoon months, thereby solving the twin problems of flood and water scarcity.

 The following methods may be used to achieve this objective:

  • River linking:The government has been ambitious with this project of diverting excess water from overflowing rivers to rivers in non-perennial regions, in order to solve the problems of flood and water shortage. These river linking channels could also be useful as all-weather inland navigation waterways, thereby helping in creating a cheaper and pollution free mode of transport.

  • Rain water harvesting:The excess water can be captured and stored in wells, tanks etc. during rains as was practiced in many parts of India during medieval period (in form of stepwells/baolis etc).

  • Multi-purpose projects/dams:Dams can be erected in flood areas to capture excess water which can then be released slowly over the year as per irrigation requirements.

  • Inundation canals and weirs:Flood water can also be managed by making diversions through inundation canals, small irrigation structures, and with weirs that take away excess water to the agricultural fields.

The methods stated above,can go a long way in solving various water woes of India if implemented expeditiously and on a large scale.

  • In India normally floods don’t occur to all the rives at a same time . Because of the monsoon pattern different rivers get affected with floods at different point of time.
  • When floods occur to a river , that entire water flows and finally meet with sea/ocean . Instead of allowing it into the sea if we inter link the rivers, that excess water can be diverted into the other river.
  • This water is stored and transferred to the other river, where ever is required in that link. That water can be used for the purpose of agriculture, we can also develop inland water ways also.
  • Here source of irrigation become sustainable because at one or other point of time in an year any of the part is experiencing the Monsoon, which results in floods, now we can divert that water into other deficit area. We can also use that flow for inland water ways.

The project already proposed are :

  • Ganga-Kaveri link

  • Ganga-Brahmaputra link

  • ken-betwa-son link
  • west flowing rivers of western ghats link

Most of the flood waters of Ganga, Brahmaputra wasting every year on one hand. The southern states in Krishna, Kaveri, Penna basins facing acute water shortage for agriculture. Linking is the best solution to solve this problem.

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