Friday, 6 December 2013

Importance of Water & Mankind

Water is the prime determinant of the sustainability of human being “Jalati Jivayati Lokaniti!”  Water in different forms is considered as Apodevatas in Vedic literature.  Since time immemorial water is worshiped in India. It is one of the five elements that contribute the life support system.  Everything in human life is, in some way or the other, tried to water.  The reduction in availability of this resource in the past has led to the decline of major civilizations in the past.  It is widely felt by the people that water is a free gift of nature available in unlimited quantity. It may have been so in the past, but the current situation is different, it has become a scarce commodity in the arid areas.  Over the years water was a community resources where people themselves has to take care of its availability but gradually it has been taken out from them by the politicians.

The demand for water is increasingly steadily, as human and livestock populations are increasing, more and more land is being brought under irrigated agriculture and newer industries are being set up.  Since water is limited such trend is forcing people to even use ‘marginal’ quality water in some areas. This again triggers off a chain of degradation process involving the land and also affects human and animal health. To alleviate the problems, new tube-wells are being sunk and water has been canalized from the wetter north.

Yet, short-sighted planning and poor execution of works, like the construction of minor irrigation reservoirs at wrong sites, dumping of industrial effluence in the ephemeral stream beds or profuse irrigation without proper soil drainage are adding more to the problems. The problem of water is, therefore, multi-dimensional.  Bringing water into the dry zone, or sinking more tube-wells alone, cannot solve the problems. Tackling of the problem requires, first, quantitative information on the availability and uses of water, as also an analytical approach to the environmental impact of different water uses and monitoring of the effect of different uses.

India’s average annual rainfall is around 1,100 mm and concentrated for three months time. The bulk of rain waters flows away via ravine system. Thus the rainwater runoff and flood discharges constitute a major resource to be conserved. The usage of monsoon waters whose arrival is concentrated in three months mainly needs to be dispersed over the year.  It has been estimated that at least 1% of annual precipitation all over India, if stored, is sufficient to take care of its domestic water requirements for the burgeoning population of India.  It can be conserved in various forms to augment the ground water table as the ground water reservoirs forms the most economical means of storage as well as the most dispersed form of supply. Seeing the present condition it is known that the ground water is getting depleted at a drastic level and off course, with richer people and higher economic growth rates, water is getting severely polluted. The time has come to intervene and protect one of our precious resources.

Every year the ground water table is receding due to excessive demand due to increase in the population and agricultural purposes as the new hybrid varieties require more water. Every summer the whole area is under acute shortage of water, which leads to various problems the drinking water, livestock population and the whole of the agricultural pattern would come under the grip. The women are suffering the most as she is facing lot of hardship in fetching drinking water for the family and animals. The drudgery of rural women is that, she has to walk 4-6 km. and spend on an average 3-4 hours daily to collect drinking water. She is facing problem in bathing & washing cloths as well. Therefore the SED is providing technological inputs and awareness for rainwater harvesting in the form of household and community level and water conservation/management so as to reduce her drudgery and meet the requirement for households and other purposes and increase the ground water level.

“Water harvesting” is the simple technique to mitigate the foreseen problem which may cause a great threat to the civilization of mankind.  United Nations had also stated that in the next century there would be a war on water. Therefore the SED felt the need for developing simple techniques for water conservation and harvesting at village level and there propagation.  The concept is to catch the rainwater where it falls and conserve it in various means of storage like ponds, tankas, baolis etc. and off course the cheapest means of storing water is in the form of underground reservoir i.e., to recharge the groundwater table.  It is suggested by SED that the rainwater, which falls on the roof, has to be tapped and connected to a certain point for eg. a abundant well, pit or recharge shaft. The water is being used in the lean season for various purposes by sinking a tube well or bore well.  The household level rooftop water harvesting and a community level water harvesting structure are being made on an existing pond or lake, from where the whole village community is benefiting. This structure is augmenting the ground water level for drinking and agricultural purposes.  These water-harvesting techniques are not only benefiting the rural women but also the whole village. Above all the socio-economic level of the area is getting a boost as the women are getting quality time for other productive work to enhance the level of income. With these efforts of SED, the village economy is improving and rural women are being empowered.

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