Friday, September 20, 2019
Follow us on

TOI EDIT-Tackle Water Crisis Comprehensive plan needed as drought conditions prevail in large parts

June 13, 2019 05:31 AM


Tackle Water Crisis
Comprehensive plan needed as drought conditions prevail in large parts
With the country staring at possibly the longest heatwave spell in recorded history, things have been made worse by an increasingly acute water crisis. The pre-monsoon season this year has been the second driest in 65 years with the country witnessing 99 mm of rainfall during this period against the average of 131.5 mm. About 42% of the country is abnormally dry – 6% more than last year. Add to this a delay in the onset of monsoon and circumstances are indeed grim.

All of this is the cumulative effect of poor water management and climate change. While an IMD study has found a threefold increase in heatwaves every year since 1991, perennial rivers such as Cauvery, Krishna and Godavari have seen a significant drop in their flows, and hundreds of small, seasonal rivers are perishing permanently. Plus water usage has become unsustainable. For example, while Maharashtra faces drought conditions, sugarcane acreage there shot up to 11.63 lakh hectare last year as compared to 9.02 lakh hectare in 2017.

Meanwhile, the underground water table has severely depleted in several regions, creating acute water shortages in cities – Bengaluru being a prime example – as well as rural areas like arid Bundelkhand. In fact, it is projected that over the coming years there will be a deficit of 43% between water availability and requirement, increasing to 50% by 2030 unless usage patterns change. As government renames the water resources ministry Jal Shakti Mantralaya and announces an ambitious plan to bring piped water to every rural household, little attention is being given to sustainable supply. The need of the hour is a comprehensive water plan that focusses on reusing waste water, recharging aquifers and preventing overuse. Otherwise, the water woes of Cape Town, South Africa, will soon be striking home.

Have something to say? Post your comment