[Answered] “With looming water crisis situation, government need to promote traditional methods of water conservation.” Discuss.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Looming water crisis situation. Why traditional water conservation methods should be focused?
Conclusion. Way forward.

The demand for water in India is steeply increasing. India’s population which was 1.3 billion in 2005 is expected to rise to 1.66 billion in 2050. There is also going to be a major impact on development in the form of urbanisation. In 2007, 28.2% of the Indian population was living in urban areas and the urban population is expected to increase to 55.2% by 2050.

Looming Water crisis situation:

  1. Increased industrialisation will demand more water as its contribution to GDP will increase from 29.1% in 2000 to 40% by 2050. Thus, the demand for water will increase from 30 billion cubic meter in 2000 to 161 billion cubic meter in 2050.
  2. While the consumption of water in India will increase by over 50%, the supply will increase only by 5-10% during the next 12-15 years.  This will lead to water scarcity situation and most of the people, particularly those who are dependent on agriculture and living in poverty will suffer the most. 
  3. Water scarcity will affect the food production, biodiversity and the environment.  Environmental degradation will accelerate global warming, which in turn will accelerate water crisis.
  4. According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the Niti Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and others) are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people.

Traditional water conservation methods should be focused as it would help in:

  1. Protection of groundwater and fresh water resources– Groundwater, that which is stored in rocks beneath the earth’s surface, is far more abundant than fresh surface water, less susceptible to contamination and requires less treatment to make it drinkable. Thus, it makes sense to conserve groundwater resources as much as possible.
  2. Augmentation of water resources: The solution is to tap all the possible water resources and make them available for sustainable use, while improving the water use efficiency.  This can be done by addressing various concerns and initiating suitable actions for development of new water resources, augmentation of available resources, prevention of water pollution and improving the efficiency of water use in all the sectors.
  3. Increasing water storage capacity: Activities such as farm ponds, percolation tanks, water reservoirs and construction of small and medium size dams and rivers can retain more surface water, while increasing the ground water recharge. Series of contour bounds particularly in undulating areas will facilitate percolation of water in the soil and improve the ground water table, while reducing soil erosion. Gully plugging, construction of series of small dams on rivulets will help in storing water in reservoirs.
  4. Judicious use of water for different uses: Traditional methods promote judicious use of water. It minimise wastage of water. E.g water from house run off is an excellent source of irrigation.
  5. Community involvement: One-size-fits-all approach does not work in the conservation of water. Traditional methods are more efficient and involves communities in water conservation thereby making water conservation efforts effective.

Some famous traditional methods are- Eri (tank) system of Tamil Nadu, Bamboo Drip Irrigation, Johads, Kunds etc.  ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ will focus on five aspects – water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies, reuse of water and recharging of structures, watershed development, and intensive afforestation. This is a much needed step and require coordinated efforts.

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