Time to realise value of water

Time to realise value of water

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to the people to conserve every drop of water was occasioned by the acute water crisis that has gripped a large part of the country. Even without the prime minister’s call, it was clear to everyone that drastic measures are needed to solve the serious situation. About 340 million people in 10 states are badly hit, and many others are experiencing severe shortage. Consecutive droughts for two years have exacerbated the situation. Water trains are taking water to the worst-hit areas, people are migrating, animals are dying and crops have withered. Every passing year, the situation is worsening and so it is time for urgent steps to deal with it. Unfortunately, this is talked about again and again but little is done to improve the situation. The prime minister has told the 10 states to make weekly action plans and follow up their implementation. He also told them to take long-term measures to conserve water and stop its wastage.

 
The key to any successful plan to solve the water problem is conservation and efficient use of water. India is not a water-scarce country. The average rainfall in the country is above the world average. The per capita availability of water is more than in many other countries. But most of the water flows into the sea. Irrigation accounts for most of the usage but much of it is wasted. Drip irrigation schemes are yet to become popular. Crops that require more water need to be shifted from water-scarce areas to where there is better availability. Wells, ponds, rivers and other water bodies need to be revived. Indiscriminate extraction of ground water has sent water levels lower and lower in all parts of the country. The need for rainwater harvesting has remained an official slogan. It is not enforced even where it can be. Even the available water is bad and polluted in many places. No major effort has been made to recycle water.

In spite of all the scare about shortage, the value of water has not yet seeped into the minds of people and influenced their thoughts and actions. Water is still considered a free and inexhaustible natural resource. It is actually an economic good and should be treated in such way that its value is realised and wastage avoided. Official plans and programmes are not enough. Conservation of water has to become a social movement and every Indian should be made aware of its importance. The solution lies with every citizen in the country.

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