[Solved] Suggest measures to improve water storage and irrigation system to make its judicious use under depleting scenario. (UPSC GS-3 mains 2020)

The judicious use of water in the agricultural sector is imperative for sustainable development, especially in view of water scarcity. The need for judicious use is further accentuated under what are often referred to as ‘depleting scenarios’, which prevail in India, and are characterized by low levels of water available per hectare for irrigation. Measures to improve water storage and irrigation system to make its judicious use under depleting scenario is dicussed below.

India’s Current Water Crisis Scenario

  • One third of India’s districts are affected by severe droughts, affecting some 33 crore people in ten states.
  • Water crisis in India is very clear from the farmer suicides in Karnataka January 2016, acute scarcity in the eight districts of Gujarat and Latur in Maharashtra district, Bundelkhand district across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Shimla and Himachal Pradesh.
  • The outbreak of jaundice, high level of Coliform which makes the water unsuitable for drinking closing down of water intensive sectors, disruption in power production disruption in Farakka and the pervasive poverty in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal also tell the same story.

Reason for water crisis in India

  • Water mismanagement
  • Remedies-Creating water abundance
  • Water management would involve undertaking comprehensive, consistent and constant campaigns to re-establish the relationship between people and water.
  • Awareness generation among communities is the prerequisite for water conservation activities.

Reasons for Water Stress and Water Scarcity:

  • Water scarcity is the insufficient availability of water resources to the demands of water usage within a region or a country.
  • Water Stress is a different thing than water scarcity, it is difficulty in accessing the sources of fresh water for use over a period of time which may result in further depletion of water in the region.
  • Inefficient water management and uneven distribution: In India, some regions have an excess amount of water for their needs or requirements while some regions are facing droughts or have less amount of water simultaneously.
  • Improper water irrigation: as we know India is one of the top agricultural countries in the world so they need for the water for irrigation is very high.
  • Traditional techniques of the water irrigation resulted in the loss of water due to evaporation, drainage, excess use of groundwater, etc.
  • Government several policies to farmers for providing free electricity and financial support for water extraction through tube wells and bore wells resulted in the exploitation of water.
  • Rapid urbanization, industrialization, population growth, demand for domestic use increases the demand for water in India.
  • Water pollution in the form of disposal of industrial wastes, domestic wastes into the freshwater bodies like rivers, lakes have resulted in polluting water bodies. Hence eutrophication of surface water along with coastal water will increase.
  • The most common reason is that water is not valued in India.
  • Poor water storage: During the monsoon season the desilting operations of the water bodies, dams, etc are not done at the time affecting the water storage capacity of India.
  • Poor legislation on groundwater extraction, political reasons for not valuing water, etc. enhance water scarcity in India.

Immediate Measures


  • Formation of drought mitigation committees in the villages. These committees should assess the status of structure and undertake repairs and desilting.
  • Elicit commitment to prevent farmer suicide.
  • Arrange for tanker water supply where there is drinking water scarcity.
  • Arrange for water and fodder for livestock in livestock camps.
  • Implementation of the Right to food (RTF).
  • Restore/rehabilitate/create water conservation structures.
  • Building Medbandhis to conserve rainwater.
  • Almost all villages should have a tank, talab, dug well or any structure.
  • New rainwater conservation structure such as ponds should be constructed.
  • Funds allotted for MGNREGA must be directed towards reviving and creating water conservation structures.

Long terms Measures: Artificial groundwater recharge: Traditional water harvesting systems suited to the region, which must be revived at scale.The natural processesreduce contamination of infiltrated river water and using this artificially direct rainwater into underground aquifers through basins, pipes, ditches and wells.It can be practiced in river valleys and sedimentary plains by infiltrating river or lake into shallow sand and gravel layers.

Sectoral Approach


Agriculture

  • Promote agricultural crops which can grow in available water.
  • Adoption micro irrigation
  • Land and water management practices.
  • Laser leveling – technique removes unevenness of soil surface.
  • System of rice intensification

Industry

  • There are five levels – Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum with industries meeting better water standards at each level.
  • Increasing water efficiency
  • Life cycle analysis- Water stewardship as a part of cradle to cradle certification requires actions that only improve the water footprint in industrial processes and supply chain.
  • Supply chain water management
  • Water reuse or recycling, water offsets investments to watersheds are adopted.
  • Adoption of water offset would typically involve planting trees or investing in efficiency measures in far off lands.

New Irrigation Strategies


  • System of rice intensification should be followed in paddy cultivation to save water of about 40-50 percent and to increase the yield by about ¾ tons/Ha.
  • Provide drainage especially in canal/ tank irrigation and reuse the drained water, if it is suitable, for irrigation.
  • Conjunctive use of surface and ground water.
  • Using sprinkler irrigation in canals and tank command areas for all closely spaced crops except rice.
  • Introducing drip irrigation in well irrigated areas for all rows crops – cotton, sugarcane, banana, coconut and vegetables etc.
  • Irrigation based on water/ fertilizer production function cuves.
  • Training farmers and extension officers in water management.
  • Conducting seminars/ workshops in villages to bring awareness among ll farmers for safe water and to increase yield.
  • Demonstration and workshops may be organized in villages and in the farmer’s field to use water judiciously.
  • Extension offices in water management should be created in the block level as in the case of agronomy, plant protections etc.
  • If the rain water is harvested, conserved and managed properly as detailed above, there should not be any water scarcity problem in the country.

Water management measures in Laws

  • In the Constitution of India, water is a state subject and the national government is allowed only to intervene in the case of interstate rivers to the extent that it is declared by the parliament to be a situation in public interest. Entity 17 of the state list, Entry 56 in the Union list and Article 262 of the constitution deal with them.
  • The River Board Act 1956 provides for the establishments of River Boards, for regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valley.
  • Interstate Water Dispute Act, 1956 which extends to whole India to resolve the water disputes that would arise in the use, control and distribution of an interstate river or river valley.
  • Water Tribunal- It is a type of interference by the central government in case of failure of States to the terms of any agreement under Interstate Water Dispute Act, 1956. Eg: Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal, Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal. The tribunal investigates the matter and gives a final verdict where even Supreme Court and other courts shall not interfere.
  • Panchayati Raj Laws: Section 92 of Panchayati Raj Laws, allows village Panchayat to form a Water Committee to ensure proper water management, equal distribution, tax collection and protection of water resources. Section 110 and 200 give the panchayat the authority to approve the construction of drainage pits and to collect water tax respectively.

Steps need to be taken:

  • First, India needs to reconsider the institutional processes for dissemination of knowledge about water resource management.
  • There is a certain amount of danger inherent in the casual manner in which knowledge about water resources is legitimised and consumed, particularly in these days of ‘viral’ information.
  • Second, we need to recognise the crisis is not as much of scarcity as of delivery.
  • The challenge is to ensure an adequate access to quality water, more so in urban areas where inequities over space and time are acute.
  • We need to also realise that with the country’s rapid urbanisation, demand cannot be met by groundwater reserves alone.
  • For instance, according to the Delhi Jal Board estimates, groundwater meets just 10% of Delhi’s drinking water needs. The rest is met by surface water sources, most of it transported from outside Delhi.
  • The urban needs, which underpin much reporting on ‘water crises’, need to be met by robust long-term planning and preparation for droughts and other contingencies.
  • Cities need to stop the destruction of local water bodies and local tree cover, treat its sewage properly, harvest rainwater, and stop straightening and concretizing the rivers and encroaching on their floodplain.

Further reading…

  • Micro Irrigation includes drip and sprinkler irrigation results in efficient deployment of inputs like water, electricity, fertilizers, labour; increase in crop productivity; irrigation of additional area under crop; and bringing under cultivation water deficient, cultivable wasteland and undulating land areas due to ease of irrigation.
  • Special emphasis on watershed management programmes to address the issues related to wild runoff, conservation of soil and water, employing the runoff water, the percolation of rainwater, and rehabilitation of the wasteland is imperative.
  •  Rainwater harvesting to collect and store rainwater at surface or in sub-surface aquifers so that it can’t be lost as surface run-off.

 There is need to adopt methods like “Dong Bundh System” deploying conventional methods. It is a traditional water conservation and management system in which construction is done by locally available material and the channelized water is directed to the villages and agricultural field to ensure availability of drinking and irrigation water.

  • Transfer of water from water surplus basins to water deficit basins through inter-linking of rivers is envisaged.
  •  Canals, infiltration basins, water bodies, irrigation furrows, sprinkler systems, injection wells should be used to redirect water across the land surface to recharge groundwater artificially.
  • Rehabilitation of dams on the basis of their assessed needs to ensure water security.

Water resource management efforts, at large, require focus on water conservation, rainwater harvesting, renovation of tradi

The judicious use of water in the agricultural sector is imperative for sustainable development, especially in view of water scarcity. The need for judicious use is further accentuated under what are often referred to as ‘depleting scenarios’, which prevail in India, and are characterized by low levels of water available per hectare for irrigation.

India’s Current Water Crisis Scenario

  • One third of India’s districts are affected by severe droughts, affecting some 33 crore people in ten states.
  • Water crisis in India is very clear from the farmer suicides in Karnataka January 2016, acute scarcity in the eight districts of Gujarat and Latur in Maharashtra district, Bundelkhand district across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Shimla and Himachal Pradesh.
  • The outbreak of jaundice, high level of Coliform which makes the water unsuitable for drinking closing down of water intensive sectors, disruption in power production disruption in Farakka and the pervasive poverty in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal also tell the same story.

Reason for water crisis in India

  • Water mismanagement
  • Remedies-Creating water abundance
  • Water management would involve undertaking comprehensive, consistent and constant campaigns to re-establish the relationship between people and water.
  • Awareness generation among communities is the prerequisite for water conservation activities.

Reasons for Water Stress and Water Scarcity:

  • Water scarcity is the insufficient availability of water resources to the demands of water usage within a region or a country.
  • Water Stress is a different thing than water scarcity, it is difficulty in accessing the sources of fresh water for use over a period of time which may result in further depletion of water in the region.
  • Inefficient water management and uneven distribution: In India, some regions have an excess amount of water for their needs or requirements while some regions are facing droughts or have less amount of water simultaneously.
  • Improper water irrigation: as we know India is one of the top agricultural countries in the world so they need for the water for irrigation is very high.
  • Traditional techniques of the water irrigation resulted in the loss of water due to evaporation, drainage, excess use of groundwater, etc.
  • Government several policies to farmers for providing free electricity and financial support for water extraction through tube wells and bore wells resulted in the exploitation of water.
  • Rapid urbanization, industrialization, population growth, demand for domestic use increases the demand for water in India.
  • Water pollution in the form of disposal of industrial wastes, domestic wastes into the freshwater bodies like rivers, lakes have resulted in polluting water bodies. Hence eutrophication of surface water along with coastal water will increase.
  • The most common reason is that water is not valued in India.
  • Poor water storage: During the monsoon season the desilting operations of the water bodies, dams, etc are not done at the time affecting the water storage capacity of India.
  • Poor legislation on groundwater extraction, political reasons for not valuing water, etc. enhance water scarcity in India.

Immediate Measures


  • Formation of drought mitigation committees in the villages. These committees should assess the status of structure and undertake repairs and desilting.
  • Elicit commitment to prevent farmer suicide.
  • Arrange for tanker water supply where there is drinking water scarcity.
  • Arrange for water and fodder for livestock in livestock camps.
  • Implementation of the Right to food (RTF).
  • Restore/rehabilitate/create water conservation structures.
  • Building Medbandhis to conserve rainwater.
  • Almost all villages should have a tank, talab, dug well or any structure.
  • New rainwater conservation structure such as ponds should be constructed.
  • Funds allotted for MGNREGA must be directed towards reviving and creating water conservation structures.

Long terms Measures: Artificial groundwater recharge: Traditional water harvesting systems suited to the region, which must be revived at scale.The natural processesreduce contamination of infiltrated river water and using this artificially direct rainwater into underground aquifers through basins, pipes, ditches and wells.It can be practiced in river valleys and sedimentary plains by infiltrating river or lake into shallow sand and gravel layers.

Sectoral Approach


Agriculture

  • Promote agricultural crops which can grow in available water.
  • Adoption micro irrigation
  • Land and water management practices.
  • Laser leveling – technique removes unevenness of soil surface.
  • System of rice intensification

Industry

  • There are five levels – Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum with industries meeting better water standards at each level.
  • Increasing water efficiency
  • Life cycle analysis- Water stewardship as a part of cradle to cradle certification requires actions that only improve the water footprint in industrial processes and supply chain.
  • Supply chain water management
  • Water reuse or recycling, water offsets investments to watersheds are adopted.
  • Adoption of water offset would typically involve planting trees or investing in efficiency measures in far off lands.

New Irrigation Strategies


  • System of rice intensification should be followed in paddy cultivation to save water of about 40-50 percent and to increase the yield by about ¾ tons/Ha.
  • Provide drainage especially in canal/ tank irrigation and reuse the drained water, if it is suitable, for irrigation.
  • Conjunctive use of surface and ground water.
  • Using sprinkler irrigation in canals and tank command areas for all closely spaced crops except rice.
  • Introducing drip irrigation in well irrigated areas for all rows crops – cotton, sugarcane, banana, coconut and vegetables etc.
  • Irrigation based on water/ fertilizer production function cuves.
  • Training farmers and extension officers in water management.
  • Conducting seminars/ workshops in villages to bring awareness among ll farmers for safe water and to increase yield.
  • Demonstration and workshops may be organized in villages and in the farmer’s field to use water judiciously.
  • Extension offices in water management should be created in the block level as in the case of agronomy, plant protections etc.
  • If the rain water is harvested, conserved and managed properly as detailed above, there should not be any water scarcity problem in the country.

Water management measures in Laws

  • In the Constitution of India, water is a state subject and the national government is allowed only to intervene in the case of interstate rivers to the extent that it is declared by the parliament to be a situation in public interest. Entity 17 of the state list, Entry 56 in the Union list and Article 262 of the constitution deal with them.
  • The River Board Act 1956 provides for the establishments of River Boards, for regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valley.
  • Interstate Water Dispute Act, 1956 which extends to whole India to resolve the water disputes that would arise in the use, control and distribution of an interstate river or river valley.
  • Water Tribunal- It is a type of interference by the central government in case of failure of States to the terms of any agreement under Interstate Water Dispute Act, 1956. Eg: Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal, Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal. The tribunal investigates the matter and gives a final verdict where even Supreme Court and other courts shall not interfere.
  • Panchayati Raj Laws: Section 92 of Panchayati Raj Laws, allows village Panchayat to form a Water Committee to ensure proper water management, equal distribution, tax collection and protection of water resources. Section 110 and 200 give the panchayat the authority to approve the construction of drainage pits and to collect water tax respectively.

Steps need to be taken:

  • First, India needs to reconsider the institutional processes for dissemination of knowledge about water resource management.
  • There is a certain amount of danger inherent in the casual manner in which knowledge about water resources is legitimised and consumed, particularly in these days of ‘viral’ information.
  • Second, we need to recognise the crisis is not as much of scarcity as of delivery.
  • The challenge is to ensure an adequate access to quality water, more so in urban areas where inequities over space and time are acute.
  • We need to also realise that with the country’s rapid urbanisation, demand cannot be met by groundwater reserves alone.
  • For instance, according to the Delhi Jal Board estimates, groundwater meets just 10% of Delhi’s drinking water needs. The rest is met by surface water sources, most of it transported from outside Delhi.
  • The urban needs, which underpin much reporting on ‘water crises’, need to be met by robust long-term planning and preparation for droughts and other contingencies.
  • Cities need to stop the destruction of local water bodies and local tree cover, treat its sewage properly, harvest rainwater, and stop straightening and concretizing the rivers and encroaching on their floodplain.

Further reading…

  • Micro Irrigation includes drip and sprinkler irrigation results in efficient deployment of inputs like water, electricity, fertilizers, labour; increase in crop productivity; irrigation of additional area under crop; and bringing under cultivation water deficient, cultivable wasteland and undulating land areas due to ease of irrigation.
  • Special emphasis on watershed management programmes to address the issues related to wild runoff, conservation of soil and water, employing the runoff water, the percolation of rainwater, and rehabilitation of the wasteland is imperative.
  •  Rainwater harvesting to collect and store rainwater at surface or in sub-surface aquifers so that it can’t be lost as surface run-off.

 There is need to adopt methods like “Dong Bundh System” deploying conventional methods. It is a traditional water conservation and management system in which construction is done by locally available material and the channelized water is directed to the villages and agricultural field to ensure availability of drinking and irrigation water.

  • Transfer of water from water surplus basins to water deficit basins through inter-linking of rivers is envisaged.
  •  Canals, infiltration basins, water bodies, irrigation furrows, sprinkler systems, injection wells should be used to redirect water across the land surface to recharge groundwater artificially.
  • Rehabilitation of dams on the basis of their assessed needs to ensure water security.

Water resource management efforts, at large, require focus on water conservation, rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies or tanks, reuse and recharge of bore wells, watershed development and intensive afforestation.

tional and other water bodies or tanks, reuse and recharge of bore wells, watershed development and intensive afforestation.

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