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Why Vidarbha & Marathwada are facing Water Crisis?

Why Vidarbha & Marathwada are facing Water Crisis?

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  • GS 3 || Environment || Climate Change || India & Climate Change

Why in the news?

District facing Water Crisis

Background

The researchers surveyed 13 towns across these countries to understand the challenges of the urban denizens of these regions. Unplanned urbanization and climate change are the key factors responsible for the state of affairs, the study says.

The average annual water availability of any region of country is largely dependent upon hydro- meteorological and geological factors; and such water resources data is assessed basin-wise. The per capita water availability in the country is reducing due to increase in population. Also, due to high temporal and spatial variation of precipitation, the water availability in many regions of the country is much below the national average and this may result in water stressed / scarce conditions.

Water crisis in detail:

  • Most of the community’s water sources are from springs and the springs are on the decline because of the complex combination of climatic and non-climatic factors.
  • Ten of Asia’s largest rivers originate in the Hindu Kush Himalaya stretch of mountain ranges running from Afghanistan in the west to China in the east.

  • Yet, the gap between demand and supply of water here may double by 2050. The places surveyed are extremely dependent on springs (ranging between 50% and 100%) for their water, and three-fourths were in urban areas.
  • Under current trends, the demand-supply gap may double by 2050. Communities were coping through short-term strategies such as groundwater extraction, which is proving to be unsustainable.
  • A holistic water management approach that includes springshed management and planned adaptation is therefore paramount.
  • Across the region, the encroachment and degradation of natural water bodies (springs, ponds, lakes, canals, and rivers) and the growing disappearance of traditional water systems (stone spouts, wells, and local water tanks) are visible.
  • One of the studies that makes the same point about rapid urbanisation, blames poor water governance, lack of planning, poor tourism management during peak season as well as climate breakdown for the water stress.
  • Of India’s 12 Himalayan states, Assam, Mizoram and the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are the most vulnerable to climate change.

Factors behind the Water Crisis inVidarbha&Marathwada:

  • One major factor responsible for the water crisis is the change in crop pattern to one which is not congruent with the agro-climatic characteristics of this region.
  • Earlier, the main crops cultivated here used to be cereal and oilseeds. These crops were not only conducive to Marathwada’s arid climate but were drought-resistant and led to moisture harvesting.
  • But now, the predominant crops here are soybean and Bt Cotton, which dominate more than 80% of Marathwada’s cultivable land. These crops, coupled with the lure of easy profits from sugarcane, have led the farmers and the citizens to the edge of the current hydrological disaster.
  • Another factor responsible for the crisis is the diversion of water to the industries and sugar factories.
  • Sugar factories in Marathwada were operational despite the mounting water crisis. To produce 1 kg of sugar, about 2,000 litres of water are required.
  • There was also no significant effort was made by the State to curtail the water supply to the industries.
  • Moreover, there has been no significant effort at harvesting water or replenishing the groundwater table.

Common reason for water crisis all across:

  • Industrial Demand: As the share of GDP that water contributes to GDP rises from 29.1% in 2000 to 40% by 2050, more water will be required. As a result, water demand will rise from 30 billion cubic metres per year in 2000 to 161 billion cubic metres per year in 2050.
  • Increasing consumption: While India’s water consumption will increase by more than 50% over the next 12-15 years, supply will only increase by 5-10%. This will result in water scarcity, affecting the majority of people, particularly those who are dependent on agriculture and live in poverty.
  • Freshwater scarcity: India’s water demands are mostly reliant on the monsoon. Environmental changes and population growth, along with a lack of long-term water resource availability, are a problem.
  • Unsafe and poor quality:Despite advancements in drinking water, many other water sources are contaminated with bio and chemical contaminants, and water-related ailments account for about 21% of all diseases in the United States. In addition, just 33% of the population has access to traditional sanitation. This resulted in a lack of safe drinking water, putting the health of the Indian population at risk.
  • Groundwater scarcity: Many rural Indian communities on the edges of urban development have little choice but to drill wells to tap groundwater sources. Groundwater blocks are critical or overexploited in 29% of cases. There is no simple solution for India, which relies on water supplies for food and human survival, but the country’s overall water availability is severely strained.

Case Study: Issue of water crisis in Himalayan region:

Eight towns in the Himalayan region of Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan were nearly 20%-70% deficient in their water supply, according to a survey that appears in the latest edition of the journal Water Policy.

Reasons for water crisis in Himachal Pradesh region:

  • Perennial sources of water such as Sutlej and Beas rivers heading for a water Crisis.
  • Himachal Pradesh received less snow and rain this winter.
  • After winter, melt-water from glaciers and the snow cover regularly feeds the groundwater as well as other downhill water sources such as springs, wells, bawries, lakes, rivulets, streams, and rivers.
  • Water sources have already started drying up this year due to deficient snowfall.
  • According to the Indian Meteorological Department, the state received only 59 millimetres of precipitation this winter (January 1 to February 28), which was 69 percent less than normal.
  • Over the decades, demand for water has been growing due to increasing population in the state, with people now relying more on piped water supply schemes rather than traditional sources such as springs and bawries.
  • Rainfall patterns, too, have become erratic. During dry periods, water sources dry up quickly in some areas, especially in the Shiwalik hills where the water-holding capacity of the soil is low.
    • There are villages in various constituencies which often remain without water supply for weeks.
    • Areas like Dalhousie and Banikhet suffer water shortage even during normal times but this year, drought-like conditions have already begun and it is bound to get worse during the coming months.

Solutions:

  • The installation of hand-pumps and bore wells.
  • Water harvesting tanks will be built throughout the state
  • Building rainwater harvesting structures
  • Water tankers during periods of shortage
  • Explore the option of “snow harvesting” in the higher reaches.

Government Policies and Programmes:

  • National Water Policy 2012: The stringent implementation of National Water Policy.
  • The Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) was launched by the Government of India on June 25, 2015 in selected 500 cities and towns across the country for a period of 5 years i.e. from FY 2015-2016 to FY 2019-2020, which has been extended for completing the grounded projects.
  • AtalBhujalYojana: It was introduced in 2016-17 Union Budget for a period of 5 years with a corpus of Rs.6000 crore, shared by Central government and World Bank on 50:50 basis.
  • National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP): It aims at providing every person in rural India with adequate safe water for drinking, cooking and other domestic basic needs on a sustainable basis.
  • National Programme on Regeneration of Springs (NPRS): The programme will entail several short, medium and long-term actions through 8 step methodology.
  • International cooperation:
    • 18th SAARC summit in Kathmandu, the SAARC member countries signed a Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation.(hydropower projects)
    • The Koshi Flood Outlook being developed by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and its national partners in Nepal and India has high potential for saving lives and properties in the basin
  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain on 22nd March, 2021, the World Water Day, with the theme “Catch the Rain – Where it Falls When it Falls” to cover all the blocks of all districts (rural as well as urban areas) across the country during 22nd March, 2021 to 30th November, 2021 – the pre-monsoon and monsoon period. The focused interventions for JSA includes water conservation &rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies/tanks, reuse and recharge of borewells, watershed development and intensive afforestation.
  • This will not only help us face the present crisis, but also open up avenues to deal with issues of future water availability amid climate and socioeconomic changes. Regional cooperation should be based on the three pillars of sustainability: economic vitality, environmental integrity and social equity, both at the national and local level.

How water crisis can be avoided?

  • Increasing water storage and expanding water supply will help cities survive droughts.
  • Natural-based methods, known as “supply-side management,” can solve overall water shortages and are recognised as the primary answer for providing sustainable water for agriculture.
  • Agricultural systems that are environmentally beneficial, such as those that use conservation tillage, crop diversification, legume intensification, and biological pest control, as well as intensive, high-input systems.
  • Natural-based methods to enhancing sustainable agricultural production provide significant environmental co-benefits, such as reduced land conversion pressures, pollution, erosion, and water requirements.
  • Constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment can be a cost-effective, nature-based solution that produces high-quality effluent for a variety of non-potable purposes (irrigation) as well as other benefits such as energy production.
  • Farmers must be taught how to use irrigation water efficiently. Reusing water is also a possibility. Rainwater harvesting pits must be made mandatory for all types of buildings in both urban and rural regions.
  • To support the efforts of governments and non-governmental organisations in promoting water conservation, conscious efforts must be undertaken at the household level, as well as by communities, institutions, and local bodies.
  • Long-term measures should be adopted to prevent water pollution, groundwater contamination, and adequate treatment of home and industrial wastewater.
  • If we are to leave future generations with a livable planet, we must practise reduction, reuse, and recycling.

Way Forward:

  • Rain catchment programmes: Because most water is moved or evaporated rather than consumed, rain catchment schemes must be developed and implemented.
  • Drip irrigation: Excess water use for food production depletes the total water table when agricultural output is high. Drip irrigation helps to conserve water while also ensuring food security.
  • Long-term planning: The city and state governments should concentrate on resolving the root causes of the problem. The quantity of groundwater a home can extract should be regulated by the government. This water should be metered and charged accordingly.
  • Education: More efforts are needed to raise awareness about water scarcity, share knowledge about traditional water storage methods, and disseminate information about individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on water conservation.
  • The Maharashtra Irrigation Act of 1976 contains provisions that allow the government to advise residents in the command area not to plant water-intensive crops like sugarcane if there is a severe water shortage.
  • Drought-resistant crops, including as oilseeds and pulses, should be encouraged, and watersheds should be built through the MGNREGA project to replenish the groundwater table.
  • People have been battling short-term remedies such as groundwater extraction, which have proven to be unsustainable.
  • As a result, it’s critical to take a comprehensive strategy to water management that includes springshed management and anticipated adaptation.

Mains oriented question:

Describe the future water catastrophe in India. Discuss how the Atal Bhujal Yojana can assist prevent water shortages. (200 words)