Ground Report | Vikas Meshram: Water scarcity concepts, problems; Water is a basic need of human beings, it is also given the status of human rights. Despite this, about 100 crore people around the world do not have access to pure drinking water. It is said that by the year 2025, 50 percent of the world’s population will be forced to face a severe water crisis. What is the root of this crisis? How to deal with this so that “
In arid regions of Rajasthan, women have to walk for nearly four hours daily to fetch water for household needs. In December 2003, Karnataka objected to the Supreme Court’s decision to give more water to Tamil Nadu.
Water scarcity concepts, problems
The farmers of Madhuranthagam protest why water is being drawn from their reservoir to meet the needs of Chennai. Hundreds of people in India and Bangladesh are forced to drink water polluted with hazardous chemicals like arsenic, while 800 crores of bottled water are used. The money market is booming.
Panchayat in Plachimada, Kerala protests against the Coca-Cola plant, which is destroying their natural resources, but the Court orders that Coke can start its production, and Gram Sabha must be licensed. Women in rural areas fetch water
Day by day in India, the dilapidated form shows the form of the water crisis. Water is a basic need of man. UNESCO gives human rights status to water. But today around 100 crore people around the world do not have access to drinking water. About 290 crore people do not have access to health care facilities. It is estimated that by the year 2015, half of the world’s population will be forced to face an acute water crisis. What is the root of this crisis? Is water scarcity causing water scarcity? How to deal with this crisis so that the goal of water for all can be achieved by the end of the millennium?
The water cycle is the natural process by which pure water is continuously recharged.
- The water of the ocean evaporates and takes the form of vapor.
- The vapors condense and take the form of clouds.
- In contact with cold ground air, water falls as rain or snow as a result of precipitation.
Changes in vapor from percolation by plants and trees. It penetrates into the ground and starts flowing towards underground water, rivers, and the ocean. It flows on the surface of the earth as a current and gets mixed in the ocean.
Pure drinking water supply and associated hazards Only 2.5 percent of the water resources on earth are the source of pure water. Two-thirds of it is also imprisoned in polar ice caps, ice caps, and deep underground deposits. So human has easy access to only 0.5 percent of the entire water resource. This pure water supply is accessible in various forms. The water cycle is the conversion of water from one form to another (see Box: Water cycle), which recharges surface and underground water bodies with rain and water from melting ice caps.
But it is important to know that if there is no proper harvesting of rainwater and surface water, most of the water will end up in the ocean instead of recharge the geological aquifers (geological surface of water-storing stones and soil).
The supply of clean water is about 7400 cubic meters per person per year i.e. about 4500 liters per person per day. This would make you feel that this is more than necessary, but due to the ever-increasing demand and decreasing supply, there are many problems in global water management. Freshwater resources are unevenly spread around the world. For example, Asia, where 60 percent of the world’s population lives, has only 36 percent of the world’s water resources.
This unequal division affects water management in two ways: first, the amount of water per capita decreases, which means water scarcity and in some areas the crisis situation; And second, the misuse of groundwater further impairs our access to renewable water in the future.
About 80 percent of the world’s water is used for agriculture. But 60 percent of the water used for irrigation is wasted, due to leaking canals, evaporation, and mismanagement. The residues of fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture also play their role in contaminating water sources.
According to the United Nations World Water Report, two million tons of sewage and toxic water get into our water in the form of industrial, human, and agricultural waste. This filth and toxic substances are feared to reduce the availability of freshwater by 58 percent. Apart from this, dramatic climate change due to pollution is also expected to reduce the availability of water by 20 percent.
A crumbling city
Mexico City was founded in the 15th century by the conquering Spanish army. The place which used to be the City of Lakes to support the livelihood of Native Indians was destroyed by the conquerors to build the city. Ironically, due to the increasing size and industrialization of the city, groundwater is still being used excessively. Due to a lack of clean drinking water as well as inadequate sewage and leaking pipes, the city is sinking by 2 cm every 14 days.
The water crisis is getting worse due to the increasing consumption of water and increasing urbanization. As a result of increasing urbanization, underground water is also being over-exploited in many cities of the world. The land is also shrinking due to the misuse of groundwater and we are going to wash our hands of even the cheapest water storage vessel. Forests play an important role in the conservation and purification of water sources. They block polluting elements from reaching rivers, prevent floods and increase recharge of groundwater.
It is estimated that forests clean 25 percent of the water distributed in New York City. Deforestation by urbanization and the destruction of wetlands (waterlogged land areas) have opened up the water channels, which sometimes cause floods and sometimes droughts.
The level and pattern of water consumption of any country is an important indicator of its level of economic development. People in developing countries spend much less per capita water than people in developed countries. In addition, in developing countries, the majority of water resources are spent on agriculture, whereas in developed countries water use is almost equally distributed in agriculture and industry.
Economic development brings about changes in the lifestyle of the society – ie urbanization, access to water through pipes, increased consumption of grain/meat, more industrialization – that is, everything that has a direct impact on water consumption. Average per household water consumption in the US increased from 10 cubic meters in 1900 to 200 cubic meters in 2000, as more and more people’s water sources changed from wells and public taps to household taps.
Water issues in India
There are two main sources of water in India – rain, and snow-melt of Himalayan glaciers. The annual rainfall in India is 1170 mm, making it one of the countries with the highest rainfall in the world. But, here there is a huge variation in the amount of rainfall from one season to another, and from one place to another. While at one end there is Cherrapunji in the northeast, which receives 11000 mm of rain every year, while on the other end there are places like Jaisalmer in the west which receive hardly 200 mm of rain annually.
The people of Rajasthan would find it difficult to believe that these monsoon floods in Gujarat caused economic losses of Rs 2,000 crore, or that the Sutlej river dam in Himachal left thousands homeless, or that the recent floods in Mumbai have caused life loss. It just got messed up. (Water scarcity concepts, problems)
Pure drinking water is still a dream for the poor people living in the city. Although ice and glaciers are not such good producers of freshwater, they are good means of distributing it and providing water in times of need, such as in summer. In India, 80 percent of the rivers flow in the four summer months from June to September, while the hot and humid sea breeze blows in from the northeast (southwest monsoon season). The scarcity of water is rapidly taking a terrible form in India. According to a World Bank report, when the population will increase to 140 million in 2025, all the water sources of the country will have to be used to meet the increased need for water.
The pressure of increasing population, economic development, and inefficient government policies have encouraged excessive use of water sources and pollution. Groundwater is being drawn out at twice the rate of recharge so that the water level falls by 1 to 3 meters every year. According to a World Bank report, five of India’s 20 major rivers have their river basins below the water deficit standard of 1000 cubic meters per year and five more river basins will be added to it in the next three decades. (Water scarcity concepts, problems)
Water pollution is a serious problem and puts more pressure on the available sources of water. According to the Ministry of Water, 70% of India’s surface water and rising groundwater reserves are polluted with organic, toxic chemicals. According to the World Water Institute, 11 lakh liters of sewage water is dumped every minute in the Ganges River, which is the main water source for many Indians. Indian water has been ranked third among the most polluted waters in the world in the World Water Development Report given by UNESCO.
There were three main factors in the Green Revolution that transformed India from a food-dependent country to one of the world’s largest agricultural countries.
Use of better seeds by genetics
The Green Revolution led to record-breaking food production and increased per unit yield. But it also had a bad effect on the environment. The use of weed killers based on agro-chemicals has also affected the surrounding environment and human health. The salinity of the land has also increased due to the increase in irrigated land.
There are many sources of water pollution, including domestic sewage, agricultural and industrial waste. The “Green Revolution” of the sixties-seventies gave rise to a number of environmental issues (see box: Green Revolution). Insecticides and artificial fertilizers being used wildly in agricultural work have reached the life of aquatic animals by mixing in water and making the water unfit for use.
The main cause of water pollution in urban areas is the wastewater containing excreta from the drains and chemical emissions of industries that keep flowing into the rivers. Every year, about 50 million cubic meters of untreated urban sewerage sewage is discharged into these rivers, which has seriously polluted all fourteen river systems of India. Similarly, out of 55 billion cubic meters of polluted water emitted by industrial areas, 68.5 million cubic meters are directly discharged into local rivers, without any pre-treatment.
In 80 percent of rural areas of India, only groundwater is used for domestic water supply, and in 45 percent of areas for agricultural purposes. This heavy dependence on groundwater is rapidly depleting its natural sources. The rapid decline in groundwater level is being recorded in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and southern states. India is currently passing through an unprecedented economic boom which will deepen the water crisis. As the migration of villagers to urban areas increases, water resources will be further burdened by the increasing needs of domestic and industry.
The possibility of conflict and conflict arising due to a water crisis over shared water sources is not unfounded. The Cauvery water dispute between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is a classic example of this. Both the states are dependent on the water of the Kaveri river for irrigation. If the monsoon arrives late or the situation of rain is created, then every time there is a dispute over the use of the water of the river. This dispute has become more intense and complicated by the displacement of local farmers who depend on the water of the river Cauvery for their livelihood. (Water scarcity concepts, problems)
The struggle for water is intensifying due to unhealthy practices of agricultural production and inappropriate use of effective traditional rainwater harvesting systems. For petty commercial benefits, large farmers in Tamil Nadu in the Thanjavur delta take three crops of paddy, which require a lot of water for production. In Karnataka, Mandya farmers cultivate sugarcane – a cash crop that also requires additional water. (Water scarcity concepts, problems)
Recently the Punjab government reneged on its promise to build the Sutlej Yamuna link to share the waters of the Beas river between Haryana and Rajasthan. Although the Beas river does not flow in the coastal areas of Haryana, this river water agreement is actually before the separation of Haryana from Punjab in 1976, so Haryana also has a right on it. However, since then Punjab has been claiming that water for its intensive agricultural use.
Many rivers flow through two or more countries in India and in many places in the world. The waters of these rivers have been surrounded by controversies everywhere as to which country deserves how much. The urgent need of the day is that agriculture should be rationalized, water distribution should be done in an equitable manner and a solid water management policy should be implemented at the national and regional levels. As the need for water conservation grows, so will the debate on privatization among policymakers and industry.
In today’s world, where individuals and communities are spending their lumps for water, agriculture and industries are being provided financial assistance through canals for water, irrigation canals, and tax exemptions, etc. On top of that, public water distribution systems in urban areas are failing due to increasing needs, corruption, water theft, and crumbling infrastructure.
Privatization of water: lessons from Bolivia
The privatization of water distribution in Bolivia, South America, resulted in rising water prices, making water inaccessible. Bechtel got the contract for the privatization of water distribution in Cochabamba. Bechtel immediately doubled the prices and also prohibited the harvesting of rainwater in homes through fee-based permits. These arbitrary moves by the company met with widespread public opposition and eventually forced Bechtel to back down. Bechtel then sued the Bolivian government for $25 million, which would have been the company’s alleged net profit if it had been allowed to operate.
The debate on privatization of water resources focuses on the issue of making water a consumer commodity and is based on a straightforward ideology: if water harvesting is the call of the hour, the compulsion to pay for water will only encourage water harvesting. But the debate is not so straightforward.
First, water harvesting will force poor people, who are at the end of the food chain, to store more because they already have less access to water and cannot afford the high value of water. Privatization of water will encourage monopolies as it will take time for the water companies to recover the infrastructure cost and in the meantime have preventive rights over its water distribution. This monopoly will also allow companies to charge higher water prices from customers.
In a situation where the cost of water is to be borne by the community itself, should private institutions be allowed to profit from a valuable resource like water? In the rapidly expanding globalization, the commercialization of water will take it away from those who cannot afford the cost.
Combination of rivers – miracle or mirage?
In the last few years, the scheme of interlinking of rivers has received a lot of support. Connecting 37 rivers in India through thirty links, dozens of dams and thousands of miles of canals will be a Rs 10,000 crore Bhagirath effort. The main objectives of this scheme are:
- Irrigation of 340 lakh hectares of land
- Drinking water for rural, urban and industrial needs.
- Generation of 34000 MW by hydroelectric generators.
- Inland transport over a network of rivers
- environmental improvement and development of afforestation
Although some of these objectives are important, some question marks have also been raised by the public and NGOs. The fate of this project started by the BJP-backed NDA government under the leadership of the Congress-backed UPA government is also unclear. The government claims that technical feasibility studies of eight river-linking canals have been completed, yet these reports have not been made public.
Without access to such documents, it becomes difficult for independent organizations to verify the claims of the government. For example, it is not clear how much energy generated from the project will be used to run the project itself so that the water is raised to a higher height. It is also not clear whether alternative solutions such as repairing leaky canals and improving irrigation efficiency are also being looked into.
Are binds a solution?
The twentieth century witnessed the construction of many large dams. Today there are about 48000 dams in the world that are fulfilling the needs of the growing population. Currently, India and China are among the largest dam manufacturers in the world. But rarely, such research is done to find out whether the dams are fulfilling the purpose for which they were built or not. (Water scarcity concepts, problems)
Over the past decade, the World Commission on Dams (Global Commission on Dams), which includes industrialists, engineers, policymakers, and NGOs, has conducted research into the cost and benefits of dams. His research proved that even though there were benefits, the cost of building dams far outweighs the benefits. The Commission’s advice was that the construction of dams should be done only in the event of no option.
Many tribals, farmers, and fishermen live on the banks of rivers and depend on the rivers for their livelihood. It is estimated that 20 million people have already been displaced due to dams built in India since 1950. The life of dams is 30 to 50 years. Nowadays in the West, dams are being broken due to environmental damage. The construction of dams has cut down forests, wiped out thousands of flora and fauna that helped prevent floods and absorb water into the ground. A recent analysis of the famous Bhakra Nangal Project has revealed that water from this dam has met only 10% of Punjab’s irrigation demand, and groundwater depletion continues at an alarming pace in the state. (Water scarcity concepts, problems)
The proposed linkage calls for better cooperation between the states. But many states have refused to support the connectivity scheme, as they will have to share water with other states. River basins are international water bodies and are subject to international water treaties. There is no consensus on the proper division of water between India and its neighbors.
According to Sandra Postel, an expert in global water problems, water conservation and efficient use of existing resources is more effective, both economically and environmentally, than building dams and finding alternative sources of water. Public discussion on the benefits and costs of interlinking of rivers and other alternative solutions should be given great importance before it is too late.
Rainwater harvesting has saved the Alwar district of Rajasthan from the wrath of drought for the last three years. Where Cherrapunji, which is known as the rainiest place in the world, is constantly battling with water scarcity. Alwar district of Rajasthan, which receives only 300 mm of annual rainfall, has been water-reliant for three years despite a failed monsoon.
This became possible only when such johads were built and repaired, in which rainwater is stored during the monsoon so that water is available throughout the year. Water use is controlled by community decisions and activities that harm water conservation, such as overgrazing of animals, are prohibited. (Water scarcity concepts, problems)
With the water crisis on its head, rural communities are turning to solutions that have been traditionally used in India and elsewhere. From Ralegaon Siddhi in Maharashtra to the Alwar district of Rajasthan and many parts of Tamil Nadu, small dams and ponds are being repaired to solve the local water problem.