Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Rooftop rainwater harvesting for India’s water stress


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Rooftop Rain Water Harvesting

India’s rapid urban growth is expected to stress its already crumbling base of public service arrangements — especially its management of water and sanitation services, whose safe and reliable availability proved to be the first line of defence against this covid pandemic.

Q.Discuss how Rooftop rainwater harvesting can ease India’s water woes? (150W)

Rooftop Rain Water Harvesting

  • It is the technique through which rainwater is captured from the roof catchments and stored in reservoirs.
  • Harvested rainwater can be stored in sub-surface groundwater reservoirs by adopting artificial recharge techniques to meet the household needs through storage in tanks.
  • Capturing and storing rainwater for use is particularly important in dryland, hilly, urban and coastal areas.
  • It holds the potential to support the country’s preparedness against the incipient challenges of changing climate.

Water stress in India

  • An appalling confusion grips our policy makers and planners.
  • While the supply-demand gap is expected to widen by 50 per cent by 2030, many are still left without access to safe and sustainable water and sanitation services.
  • At least five Indian cities are already reported to have joined the list of world’s 20 largest water-stressed cities.

If we look at the present portfolio of water resources management for other cities, it will not be wrong to claim that many more will soon become qualified for joining this infamous list.

Exploring the complex problems

  • Water availability in India remains at the mercy of erratic patterns of precipitation.
  • Concretization of urban landscapes, symbolic of modern town planning imaginaries as to what an exercise in urban development has led to floods worsening.
  • Illegal encroachment along stormwater drains and urban rivers also aggravates the situation, not least by opening up spaces of active political contestation and negotiations.

A paradigm shift needed

  • In India, management of water was bundled as part of the prerogative claims of post-independent public institutions with public participation programs designed later on to serve only a placatory function.
  • This has led to the systematic exclusion of the public’s opinions in informing the design and implementation protocols of large public schemes.
  • It took the form of multi-purpose dams, irrigation canals, public water distribution systems, etc.
  • Despite this, India has now become a ‘water-stressed country.

A newer approach

  • Rising national empathy for river rejuvenation, watershed conservation and active public participation has, on the other hand, already started scripting a new paradigm for India’s water management.
  • It prompts decision-makers to look for solutions in the collective efforts of the citizens in managing their issues locally.

Right from the vedic times

  • Our Vedic ancestors, in their appreciation of the timeless bounty of water, always offered timely obeisance to water’s eternal gifts to mankind.
  • Their reverence to water can be found in the hymns and prayers offered to Varuna and Indra — Vedic Gods associated with water to riveting architectural gems and literary delights, each underscoring the centrality of water in our cultural revelries.
  • It is time our policies are re-designed to reflect these values.

Empowering people

  • Rooftop rainwater structures are perfectly poised to engender a transformative wave of public engagement in water management.
  • Thus it can act as a corollary for making water management an exercise in nurturing democratic routines.
  • To ensure that the public enthusiastically purchases this concept, a country-wide behaviour change campaign can be launched along the lines of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • This can emphasize people’s ‘ability and ‘motivation’ to romantically welcome these structures in their private premises.
  • This should rather be a ‘do-it-yourself’ model of engagement.

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