Changing paradigms in water management
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World water demand by the turn of the century is likely to reach almost half of the total global runoff water annually available. By then, 21 tenmillionplus metropolises the world over will have to draw fresh water from sources further away or by pumping deeper with adverse environmental effects. Yet, the efficiency of water use remains abysmally low. An estimated 60 per cent of irrigation water is lost even before it ever reaches a plant. In cities, more than onethirds of the treated water never reaches the customer because of wastage and leakage. This situation cannot continue if development and the environment are to sustain. Demand management through economic, technical and educational means could greatly improve the efficiency of water use and reduce consumption.
7 good ways to reduce water consumption in cities
1. Introduce water metering and a tariff policy which is fair and which encourages conservation
2. Promote the use of water and sanitary fittings which reduce water usage'
3. Initiate a leak detection and repair programme within the city
4. Encourage water recycling in industries to reduce pressure on freshwater
5. Explore the possibility of reusing treated wastewater for crop production and fish farming
6. Engage the public through appropriate "save water" campaigns through local leaders
7. Ensure that school children develop respect for water
The water resources sector in the country has developed in a considerable way since 1951 through successive FiveYear Plans. A large number of major, medium and minor projects have already been implemented and more are under implementation all over the country. As a result, the irrigation potential has gone up from about 23 million hectare in 1951 to about 90 million hectare at the beginning of the 9th Plan. While the minor projects have helped in a faster pace of development, the major and medium irrigation sector has provided resilience in the system through storages, thereby averting or minimising the adverse effects of drought.
In all 1,108 major, medium and ERM projects were completed by the end of the 8th Plan period and there are 661 such projects under construction during the 9th Plan. A national level workshop on "Benchmarking of Irrigation Systems" was held in Hyderabad recently. The workshop was sponsored by the Ministry of Water Resources and the World Bank and was organised by the International Committee on Irrigation and Drainage and the Power Consultancy Services (India) Ltd. A total of 60 delegates from India and abroad participated in the threeday workshop.
Development in irrigation has led to adoption of modern agricultural practices through highyielding variety of seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides etc. Consequently, the cereal production has gone up beyond 200 million tonnes from about 50 million tonnes in 1951. In addition to the direct benefits, the major and medium projects induce various secondary benefits in the respective command areas by way of promoting trade and commerce activities, setting up of agroindustries, food processing units, development of infrastructure etc. The direct beneficiaries of these developments comprise about twothirds of the main workforce in the country engaged in agricultural activities.
However, in spite of the significant role of irrigation in our country, the major and medium irrigation sector is subjected to adverse criticism from time to time. In the recent past it has been realised that reforming irrigation institutions is essential for increasing productivity and efficiency of the irrigation system. The concept of benchmarking the irrigation system is now widely regarded as an important management tool for improving efficiency.
Keeping in view, the Central Water Commission has initiated performance evaluation studies of some selected irrigation projects at the national level. To begin with the studies were confined to only major and medium irrigation projects that were in operation for 8 to 10 years. During 1982 to 1999, CWC has completed evaluation studies of the following nine projects through consultants and the findings of these studies have already been sent to the concerned state governments for their comments and followup action. The projects are: Indira Gandhi Nahar Project (Rajasthan), Dantiwada Irrigation Project (Gujarat), Sirhind Feeder Canal (Punjab), Godavari Delta Region (AP), Sriram Sagar Project (AP), Nira Parvara Project (Maharashtra), Eastern Kosi Canal Project (Bihar), Bhadar Irrigation Project (Gujarat), and the Lower Bhavani Project (Tamil Nadu).
In addition, four studies, namely, Sahzad Dam (UP), Harish Chandra Sagar (Rajasthan), Balh Valley (HP) and Bor Irrigation Project (Maharashtra) have been carried out departmentally through its interdisciplinary team. Recently, the Evaluation of Water Utilisation (EWU) Directorate of the CWC has taken up the performance evaluation studies of the following five completed irrigation projects. These studies assigned to various consultants are likely to be completed by March 2002. The projects are: Pazhasi Irrigation Project (Kerala), Sunei Irrigation Project (Orissa), Kaldiya Irrigation Project (Assam), Kangsabati Reservoir Project (West Bengal) and Kanpur Branch (UP). In addition to CWC, CBI&P and various state governments have also carried out specific studies on 83 irrigation projects mostly through consultants.
The following are some of the findings of the studies:
*The irrigation canal is being used as a source of drinking water and the people in the command area are enjoying better facilities in respect of health and sanitation. There has been a decrease in the incidence of water borne diseases due to the availability of safe drinking water.
*Substantial changes in the cropping pattern. The crop intensity has also been higher. An overall improvement in the availability of ground water.
*There is a need for increasing people's participation in the distribution of water on equitable basis among the users so that they may have a sense of involvement and belonging with the project.
*Introduction of rotational water supply is considered very essential in order to improve the efficiency of the irrigation system and to promote better management practices.
Spurt in activities of infrastructural development, poverty reduction, social consciousness, overall development of economic activities in the commands and the surrounding areas.
*Overall improvement of the environment and the ecosystem.
Tenth Plan proposals
CWC has formulated a proposal for taking up 10 more completed irrigation projects for evaluation studies. These studies will cost about Rs 20 million. The Working Group of the Planning Commission on Major and Medium Projects for formulation in the 10th Plan (200207) has suggested the following two terms of references related to performance of completed irrigation projects.
To review the performance of the projects completed up to the end of the 9th Plan with reference to the originally planned project objectives and environmental impacts and suggest changes needed, if any, in the planning and implementation of new projects.
evolve a realistic strategy and suggest measures to improve irrigation
efficiency of all the existing projects to ensure equitable, timely and optimal
delivery of irrigation water to the farmers.
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