NATIONAL WATER CRISIS
Water crisis is nothing new. It can be dated back to the pre-independence days when the scarcity conditions took the form of famine decimating lakhs of people. But fortunately, after Independence, on account of relief and rehabilitation measures, the successive governments did not allow the scourge of drought to assume the devilish proportions of famine. However, the scourge still visits us and takes a heavy toll of human misery. In-spite of all the dams, big and small, the intensity of the natural calamity leaves millions of people vulnerable to the vagaries of climate. Chronically water-deficient areas are plenty in large tracts of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and disaster strikes more and more districts in more states.
Successive governments should not repeat the mistake of just releasing relief funds, food grains, fodder and rushing trains carrying water to the affected areas. Such measures are absolutely necessary but they can serve only for a short-term.
Our agriculture is mainly dependent on monsoon. But now monsoon is playing havoc with us. Instead of normal and steady rainfall we experience either floods or droughts. Since, we should explore and device measures for a proper water arrangement. Lot of workshops, seminars etc have been conducted. But everything lies in paper, they are not implemented. Now the Government of India has mooted the idea of linking of rivers nation-wide. It aims at linking 37 rivers to transfer water from surplus areas to regions facing scarcity through 30 links and connecting 32 dams. If this dream-project is materialized it will be a boon to our national economy in different ways. Inter-state rows will be resolved, adequate irrigation facility will trigger agricultural development; moreover, it envisages many million man-years of employment. Towns and metros which face acute water shortage will be relieved of the problem. Flood waters instead of draining out to sea will be diverted to other parts where there is scarcity.
For proper implementation of any scheme, the politicians as well as the bureaucracy should become more responsible and responsive to the national interest. Corers of rupees have been spent for different water and irrigation schemes. However, it has not helped to alleviate the problem to any notable extent. In many cases the funds has not reached the beneficiaries.
It is high time that we gave thought seriously to the off-cited National Water Grid which could for all time to come eliminate the annual scourges of floods and drought. This apart, we must appoint a national Task force on water management which would, among other things, think of various projects like rainwater harvesting, work on preserving our ground water wealth, desisting irrigation tanks, reviving the traditional water reservoirs in states like Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and elsewhere. Time is running out and we can no longer afford to overlook one of the most important basic needs of our people-the provision of safe drinking water which has become synonym to life.