Action plan to protect city from climate change
- Monsoons are often volatile in Chennai and determine the abundance or scarcity of resources the following year.
- Therefore, the Water Resources Department is working on preparing a comprehensive action plan to mitigate the impact of floods and droughts.
- It is an attempt to address different challenges in making the city self-reliant in water supply and provide nature-based long-term solutions in the city’s river basins
- Project proposals are identified under the ‘Chennai City Water Supply Augmentation, Flood Mitigation, and Resilient to Climate Change.
- Among the various strategies are conservation of floodwater runoff with new reservoirs and revival of nearly extinct or long-neglected waterbodies and climate adaptive measures.
- There are plans to revive water bodies in the Chennai metropolitan area.
- In a bid to conserve runoff water, there are plans to create new reservoirs in the catchment areas of the city’s basins.
- The department is planning a climate-adaptive remodeling of waterbodies.
- Flood regulators would be constructed in lakes such as Porur to transfer or discharge existing water to prepare the waterbodies for sudden and heavy inflow during rains.
- Siltation remains a major challenge that has reduced the storage capacity of lakes.
- Afforestation in catchment and foreshore areas is planned to reduce silt deposits.
- Silt traps or trenches of masonry or rubble structure will be built in the river beds or lake beds to trap the silt carried by floodwater
- Water resource management is the activity of planning, developing, distributing, and managing the optimum use of water resources.
- According to a recent NITI Aayog report, 21 Indian cities including Delhi, Chennai, and Hyderabad will run out of groundwater by 2020 if usage continues at the current rate.
- This entails an immediate action plan for water resource management in India.
Water situation in India
- India has just 4% of the world’s freshwater — but 18% of the global population.
- The single largest source of freshwater is monsoons with annual precipitation of about 4000 BCM (billion cubic meters) which is equivalent to1170 mm of rainfall.
- Simultaneously, some northern states are water surplus whereas several states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan are water-scarce.
- In 1951, India’s per capita water availability was 5177 cubic meters which decreased to 1545 cubic meters in 2011 and are predicted to further reduce to 1300 cubic meters by 2030
Causes for the Water vulnerability
- Policy Issues: Groundwater is used to cultivate water-intensive crops like paddy and sugarcane (promoted by Green revolution) in rain deficit states like Punjab and Maharashtra respectively. State procurement policy and subsidized electricity in Punjab make it profitable for farmers to produce rice. Similarly, farmers in Maharashtra cultivate sugarcane because they are assured procurement.
- As India is one of the top agriculture producers in the world, the consumption of water for land and crops is also one of the highest.
- Poor Water Treatment Plants: Water sources are contaminated with biological pollutants. Indian water bodies also have increased amount of solid wastes.
- Reduction in traditional water recharging areas and Sewage and wastewater drainage into traditional water bodies has exacerbated the water scarcity situation in the country.
- Increasing demand due to population growth, industrialisation, and rapid urbanisation have pushed the demand for water further.
- No Reliable Data: Water data is often unreliable, and is collected using outdated techniques and methodologies. In most segments —industrial usage, households, etc — the data is mostly available at only the aggregate level, implying diminished utility for policymaking.
- There is no single water database for the country. In 2016, the standing committee on water resources of the Indian parliament finally recommended having a national groundwater database that could be updated every two years. However, not much has been done in this regard.
- Rapid Urbanization: This implies heightened water demand from households, industry and agriculture. Concretization also reduces the ground-water replenishment.
Major steps and water management strategies adopted by Government
- Ministry of Jal Shakti was formed by merging two ministries i.e. Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
- River Basin Planning: Central water Commission has divided the country into 20 rivers basins comprising 12 major and 8 composite river basins. To address the multi-faceted nature of water management, the government has introduced an integrated approach to water resources management at the national and basin level. This includes improving institutional arrangements and working practices.
- Indian Rivers Inter-link: The Indian Rivers Inter-link is a proposed large-scale civil engineering project that aims to effectively manage water resources in India by linking Indian rivers by a network of reservoirs and canals and so reduce persistent floods in some parts and water shortages in other parts of India
- MGNREGA for water conservation: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is one of the biggest government-funded employment schemes in the world.
- The huge workforce employed under the MGNREGA has enabled the government to introduce water conservation as a project under the Act. The government aims to improve groundwater harvesting and build water conservation and storage mechanisms through MGNREGA.
- Jal Kranti Abhiyan: The government is making active efforts to revolutionize villages and cities through block-level water conservation schemes. For example; the Jal Gram Scheme under the Jal Kranti Abhiyan is aimed at developing two model villages in water-starved areas to lead the other villages towards water conservation and preservation.
- National Water Mission: The Government of India has launched the National Water Mission with the objective of conservation of water, minimizing wastage, and ensuring more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management. One of the objectives of the Mission is to increase the water use efficiency by 20%.
- National Rural Drinking Water Programme: It seeks to provide every rural person with adequate safe water for drinking, cooking, and other basic domestic needs on a sustainable basis.
- NITI Aayog Composite Water Management Index: With the objective of achieving effective utilization of water, NITI Aayog has developed the Composite Water Management Index. The index revolves around issues ranging from water scarcity and related morass like deaths due to lack of access to safe water, its projected increase in demand over the years, and finding ways for its effective conservation.
Watershed management programs in India
- Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojna: The main objectives of the WDC-PMKSY are to restore the ecological balance by harnessing, conserving, and developing degraded natural resources such as soil, vegetative cover.
- Neeranchal Watershed Program: Neeranchal is a World Bank assisted National Watershed Management Project. Neeranchal is designed to further strengthen and provide technical assistance to the Watershed Component of PMKSY, in particular, and all components of PMKSY, in general, to enhance its delivery capacity.
State-specific lead in water management programs
- Mission Kakatiya - launched by the Telangana government aims to develop minor irrigation infrastructure, and strengthen community-based irrigation management
- Jalyukt-shivir – is a project of the Maharashtra government that aims to make 5000 villages free of water scarcity every year.
- Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan – has been launched by Rajasthan for the effective implementation of water conservation and water harvesting in rural areas.
- The most important crops of India — rice, wheat, and sugarcane, are the most water-consuming crops. Rice which is a major export crop consumes about 3,500 liters of water for a kilogram of grain produced.
- Further with constant population increase and depletion in water resources water management will increasingly become more difficult in the future.
- The picture of the same is visible in the precipitating crisis of water in southern states.
- Water management needs to be the central focus of efforts in the agriculture sector and environment improvement.