[Answered]Give an account of looming water crisis situation in India. Discuss how Atal Bhujal Yojana would help in preventing water crisis situation.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual introduction.

Body. Present a scenario of developing water crisis situation in India. How Atal Bhujal Yojana would help in preventing water crisis situation?

Conclusion. Way forward.

 The demand for water in India is steeply increasing. India’s population is expected to rise to 1.66 billion in 2050. According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the Niti Aayog, 21 major cities are moving towards zero groundwater levels by 2020. The average annual per capita water availability in 2001 was 1,820 cubic metres and the government estimates that this may reduce to 1,341 cubic metres by 2025. Although India has made improvements over the past decades to both the availability and quality of drinking water systems, its large population has stressed planned water resources.

Looming Water crisis situation:

  1. Industrial Demand: Increasing 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. Rising consumption: 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. Freshwater deficit: India’s water needs are dependent mainly on monsoon. Environmental changes and increasing population combined with a lack of overall long-term availability of water resources is a cause of concern.
  4. Unsafe and Poor quality: Regardless of improvements to drinking water, many other water sources are contaminated with both bio and chemical pollutants, and over 21% of the country’s diseases are water-related. Furthermore, only 33% of the country has access to traditional sanitation. This lead to unavailability of clean and drinking water and endanger Indian population health.
  5. Groundwater stress: Many rural communities in India who are situated on the outskirts of urban sprawl also have little choice but to drill wells to access groundwater sources. 29% of groundwater blocks are critical, or overexploited. There is no easy answer for India which must tap into water sources for food and human sustenance, but India’s overall water availability is under enormous stress.

How Atal Bhujal Yojana would help in preventing water crisis situation?

With the intention of addressing the problem of fast depleting groundwater resources, the government of India has planned to introduce the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY).

  1. Recharge of groundwater resources: The programme is expected to lay emphasis on the recharge of groundwater resources and a better exploitation of the groundwater resources. Since, groundwater contributes nearly 65% of India’s total irrigated area, with ABY, the Central Government seeks to promote ground water management with primary focus on demand side management.
  2. Behavioural change: The scheme will seek to strengthen the institutional framework and bring about behavioural changes at community level for sustainable groundwater resource management. The focus will be on arresting the rate of decline of groundwater levels as well as water consumption.
  3. Community participation: It envisages community-led Water Security Plans. Thus it envisage to involve people and make water conservation effort with the involvement of people at the local level. It envisages active participation of communities in various activities such as:
  • Monitoring and disseminating ground water data.
  • Formation of Water User Associations.
  • Preparation/implementation of gram panchayat-wise water security plans.
  • Information, Education and communication (IEC) activities, relating to sustainable groundwater
  1. Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building: For strengthening institutional arrangements for sustainable groundwater management in States.
  2. Cooperative federalism: Incentive would be given to the States for achievements in improved groundwater management practices such as implementation of management interventions through convergence of ongoing schemes, adopting demand side management practices among others.

Way forward:

  1. Rain catchment programs: As as most of the water is displaced or dried up instead of used, rain catchment programs must be framed and put in place.
  2. Drip irrigation: With large agricultural output, excess water consumption for food production depletes the overall water table. Drip irrigation reduce water wastage and also ensure food security.
  3. Long-term planning: The city and state authorities should focus on addressing what underlies the actual problem. There should be government regulation, to curb the amount of groundwater a household can extract. This water should be metered and priced.
  4. Awareness: More efforts to create awareness on water shortage, share knowledge of traditional methods of water storage and share information about individuals and NGOs working on water conservation is needed.

There is a clear disconnect between water, society and economy. Currently, we are interested in laying large networks, constructing huge storage dams, fetching water from 150 kilometres and above, which involves a huge carbon footprint. We need to promote a decentralised approach, with a key focus on water conservation, source sustainability, storage and reuse wherever possible.

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