The water management in India needs an overhaul to meet the array of issues from climate change to food security. Discuss the challenges and provide solutions. (250 Words)

Mentors Comments:
1. Give an overview of water sources and demands on water
2. Mention the challenges in water management in India
3. Provide solutions

Recent incident of severe drinking water crisis in various parts of the country like Chennai, Bihar etc highlights the need for efficient water management practices in India.

India is today facing a Water Emergency-
India has only 4% of global freshwater resources. But, it has to address the needs of about 18% of global population.
About 75% of households do not have drinking water at home, 84% rural households do not have piped water access, and 70% of India’s water is contaminated, with the country currently ranked 120 among 122 in the water quality index.

 Currently, water resources in India are shrinking.
 The groundwater in most of the parts of northwestern India is now available at 100 metres below the ground. With the present rate of extraction, in future, the groundwater will be available at 200 or 300 meres below the ground.
 Level of water in the reservoirs is going down. At present, the 91 reservoirs that Central Water Commission (CWC) monitors, are around 19% of their life storage.
 Due to climate change, India in the near future will witness an increase in hot spells, change in rain patterns, thus, the problem of frequent floods and frequent droughts.

Reasons for Water Stress and Water Scarcity is due to poor water governance which are follows-
 Inefficient water management and uneven distribution: In India, some regions have an excess amount of water for their needs or requirements while some regions are facing droughts or have less amount of water simultaneously.
 Improper water irrigation: as we know India is one of the top agricultural countries in the world so they need for the water for irrigation is very high.
 Traditional techniques of the water irrigation resulted in the loss of water due to evaporation, drainage, excess use of groundwater, etc.
 Government several policies to farmers for providing free electricity and financial support for water extraction through tube wells and bore wells resulted in the exploitation of water.
 Rapid urbanization, industrialization, population growth, demand for domestic use increases the demand for water in India.
 Water pollution in the form of disposal of industrial wastes, domestic wastes into the freshwater bodies like rivers, lakes have resulted in polluting water bodies. Hence eutrophication of surface water along with coastal water will increase.
 The most common reason is that water is not valued in India.
 Poor water storage: During the monsoon season the desilting operations of the water bodies, dams, etc are not done at the time affecting the water storage capacity of India.
 Poor legislation on groundwater extraction, political reasons for not valuing water, etc. enhance water scarcity in India.
 The participation of individuals, NGOs and different communities in the water management process is quite missing. 

 The time has come when India needs as rigorous a program on water efficiency as it has on energy efficiency. 
 Managing the demand side of water management is crucial as India cannot increase the per capita availability of water.
 Almost all major rivers in the country are shared between the states and perhaps, it is premature to expect that the states will surrender their authority over the river basins in their respective territories. But, at least, they can come together for coordination over the river basins and sharing the relevant information. The Central Government can play a major role in bringing the states together.
 The country needs to have a specific plan for water-stressed states.
 Both the central government and the state governments need to have considerations on setting the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of water consuming crops.
 The government needs to encourage local participation for conserving water in the country. Hiware Bazar is a good example.
 Incentive based water conservation in rural parts in the water stressed areas is another solution, for example, if a particular level of groundwater level is maintained, higher MSP can be provided to the farmers of that region.
 Water-use efficiency in agriculture can be ensured by making farmers aware and by providing them, on the ground, technologies like the one related to water resistant crops.
 In-situ water conservation techniques like rain water harvesting, check dams need to be continued.

The effective answer to the freshwater crisis is to integrate conservation and development activities – from water extraction to water management – at the local level; making communities aware and involving them fully is therefore critical for success. All this will ultimately pave the way for combining conservation of the environment with the basic needs of people.

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