Whenever asked about the major problems plaguing our country, we talk about terrorism, we talk about unemployment, we talk about poverty. Of course, these are the major issues we are facing right now but we are not paying attention to a major problem that is already knocking the doors of our country. This is the problem of water scarcity. According to a report released by the Niti Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and others) will likely run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting the lives of around 100 million people.
Those living in Chennai and other cities which are already facing major water crisis must have realized the intensity and urgency of this issue very well. But what about the rest? Are we going to take measures only after we have lost all our freshwater or should we take precautionary measures before it’s too late?
I am sure that scarcity of water will be a major cause of future conflicts and war between communities, states, and even countries if water is not saved and harvested. The concretisation of the ground surface in cities and megacities have led to the depletion of groundwater level. Even if we have a good amount of rainfall, groundwater does not get recharged with an adequate amount because water is not able to percolate into the soil. This relates to poor rainwater management.
Water is an essential part of human survival. Depletion of freshwater will have an impact on the availability of drinking water.
This water crisis will have an acute impact on the agricultural sector as around 63% of groundwater usage accounts for irrigation purposes. Already poor and distressed farmers would get more affected due to this scarcity. The effects of climate change have caused changes in the rainfall pattern and thus, farmers are heavily dependent on water tanks and lakes for irrigation but these water sources are drying up at a very fast rate.
With the increase in population, the demand for food has also increased and with that, the correlated demand for water has also risen. And therefore, I strongly feel that it is important to bring changes in the legal framework regarding groundwater harvesting and water management policies.
According to some reports, 90% of rural India’s drinking is sourced from groundwater, 75% of agriculture is dependent on groundwater for irrigation. In urban areas, 50% of the water supply is sourced from groundwater. Thus, it becomes important to recharge groundwater sustainably.
The government should promote Participatory Groundwater Management Programmes. Every household must adopt water harvesting techniques. The government must launch campaigns to create awareness among people over the growing water crisis along with sustainable water management practices.
Recently, the Telangana govt has started Mission Kakatiya which intends to conduct research over water management practices during the times of Kakatiya dynasty which had water tanks in huge number. These water tanks have gradually disappeared over time. I also think that other cities and states must learn and adopt policies of Telangana like the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme and Mission.
It’s high time that the people of India and its government start taking serious efforts towards water management to avoid facing a major crisis over water scarcity.