Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The quest for water

Water is one of the five elements, Water is life and everything. The availability of water is drastically decreasing and so many developing countries are facing water crisis. There is a connection between water, poverty and hunger; developing countries in Asia and Africa are facing water stress, malnourishment and poverty, coincidentally these countries are closely with arid and semi-arid ecosystem. Urbanization has been increasing in developing nations which push to change in water consumption pattern and demand for water has been increased. The United Nations' FAO states that by 2025, 1.9 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions.

The main share of water is taken by agriculture which accounts globally 70%, rain fed agriculture is most common method and some of the countries have been using massive ground water for agriculture. The population growth usually increase the demand for water, we already more than 7 billion and by 2050 we will be 9 billion, we need to face heavy water scarcity especially in agriculture production. The main task for developing countries is to utilization of water resources productively and efficiently i.e. How to produce more food with less water, how to recharge the ground water aquifer, how to reuse the waste water for agriculture.

Over 60% of Indian agriculture depends on rains, monsoons are very important to Indian economy, if the predictions go wrong or monsoons fails the GDP share of agriculture will be negative. Uncertainty of the monsoons and drought conditions make the farmers’ life miserable. To overcome rain- fed farming and drought, our Indian farmers are investing heavily on tube wells and high powered motor pumps… but water tables are dropping dangerously and the farmers are being dragged in to debt traps. Lot of irrigation projects were commenced by the state governments which are still under construction, huge finance investment must be required to complete these ongoing projects. According to Indian policy the Irrigation is a state subject, the state governments don’t have enough budget to complete them unless the financial support given by central government. As of now 400 irrigation projects are pending in nationwide.

Government of India should take preventive measures in agriculture to face water stress, since most of the Indian population depends on agriculture and need to feed 1.20 billion people. Recently Supreme Court of India has impelled the mega project which will link the major rivers in north and south as optimum utilization of water. This is the better way to manage the water from surplus areas to lacking but the project requires huge investment and takes long time. India needs to improve its agriculture by implementing scientific applications in irrigation system like drip, sprinklers and sprayers and also government needs to promote the low cost methods to harvest and conserve the rainwater. There is still great need of research on drought resistant and climate resistant crops, our agriculture scientists must focus on developing such verities, and Africa is the best example for such innovative crops and practices. India must take inspiration from Israel by their customized irrigation methods and reuse of waste water for agriculture.

Most recent US intelligence report says that in next ten years, water is going to be a bargain chip and as a weapon too... growing demand for water leads to wars. As we know... India has been experiencing many international river disputes like Ganges, Sindhu and Brahmaputra linked with other countries of Nepal, Pakistan and China, and inter-state river disputes like Babli, Almatti, Mullaperiyar, Kaveri etc. Privatization in the urban supplies makes more diversion of irrigated water to cities and Industrial purpose. Private corporations like Coke and other bottled water companies are taping the public water and excessive pumping the ground water which caused to water table aquifer fall. Since the available water is limited, allocation of the water to irrigation, domestic and industrial purposes shall be based on proper methodology, otherwise it leads to clashes among the people within India only not with neighboring countries. I don’t wish the quests and crusades for water; let us all together preserve the fresh water.