Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

In News: Mahi River 

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mahi River and its tributaries; its source, catchment area; dams

Mains level: NA

Why in the News?

Incidences of people drowning down into the Mahi River have become more frequent.

About Mahi River

  • The Mahi River originates in the Vindhya Range of Madhya Pradesh (hot semi-arid and watershed region), near Dhar.
  • It flows northward through Madhya Pradesh before turning westward upon entering Rajasthan. It then moves southwest, passing through Gujarat, and eventually empties into the Arabian Sea.
  • The river stretches for about 580 kilometers.
    • Soil Type: The Mahi River Basin consists of Deep Black soil (southern region) and Alluvial soil (northern region).
    • Major Tributaries: the Som, the Anas, the Panam, and the Goma.
    • Major Dams: Kadana Dam and the Mahi Bajaj Sagar (Banswara) Dam are significant hydroelectric and irrigation projects on the Mahi River.
    • Biodiversity: Supports diverse flora and fauna, including endangered species like the Indian Skimmer and Gharial.

Key Features:

  • It is surrounded by the Aravalli Hills to the north and northwest, the Malwa Plateau to the east, the Vindhyas to the south, and the Gulf of Khambhat to the west.
  • One of the most notable features of the Mahi River is its crossing of the Tropic of Cancer twice; once in Madhya Pradesh and again near the Gujarat-Rajasthan border.

PYQ:

[2017] With reference to river Teesta, consider the following statements:

1. The source of river Teesta is the same as that of Brahmaputra but it flows through Sikkim.

2. River Rangeet originates in Sikkim and it is a tributary of river Teesta.

3. River Teesta falls into Bay of Bengal at the border of India and Bangladesh.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

With inputs from: https://indiawris.gov.in/downloads/Mahi%20Basin.pdf

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Shellfish Aquaculture for Water Remediation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Geukensia demissa

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

Shellfish aquaculture using Geukensia demissa is emerging as a viable solution for mitigating excess nutrients and contaminants in coastal and estuarine waters.

About Geukensia demissa

  • Geukensia demissa is a species of mussel commonly known as the ribbed mussel or Atlantic ribbed mussel. 
  • It is native to the Atlantic coast of North America, ranging from Nova Scotia in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • They inhabit intertidal and shallow subtidal areas, typically found in estuaries, salt marshes, and tidal flats.
  • They prefer areas with muddy or sandy substrates where they can burrow and anchor themselves.

Ecological Importance

Ribbed mussels play a vital role in estuarine ecosystems.

  • Water Filtration: They filter large volumes of water, helping to improve water quality by removing suspended particles and excess nutrients.
  • Key species of Food Chain: Additionally, their presence provides habitat and food for various other organisms, including small invertebrates and fish.
  • Organisms Filter: These mussels thrive in diverse habitats and possess the ability to filter bacteria, microalgae, and detritus laden with nutrients and contaminants.

Geukensia demissa: Experimental Deployment and Results

  • To assess the efficacy of G. demissa in purifying urban waters, a raft stocked with local ribbed mussels was deployed in an estuary near New York City.
  • Subsequent analysis revealed that the mussels exhibited robust health and accumulated significant amounts of local nitrogen isotopes, indicative of nitrogen removal from the water.
  • Based on the findings, it is estimated that a fully stocked raft could purify an average of 11,356 m3 of water daily and remove approximately 159 kg of particulate matter on a daily basis.
  • Moreover, upon harvesting, the mussels sequestered 62.6 kg of nitrogen in their tissues and shells, further enhancing the water quality.

 

PYQ:

[2011] Recently, “oil-zapper” was in the news. What is it?

(a) It is an eco-friendly technology for the remediation of oily sludge and oil spills

(b) It is the latest technology developed for under-sea oil exploration

(c) It is a genetically engineered high biofuel-yielding maize variety

(d) It is the latest technology to control the accidentally caused flames from oil wells

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Places in news: Veeranam Lake 

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Veeranam Lake , Mettur Dam and their Location

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • Chennai’s main drinking water source Veeranam Lake dries up.
  • Its supply was halted due to the lack of inflow from the Mettur dam located across the Kaveri River.

About Veeranam Lake

  • Veeranarayanapuram Lake, commonly known as Veeranam Lake, serves as a crucial water source for Chennai city.
  • It is a manmade lake with 16-km long dam. It was about 20 km long and 7 km wide back then in 10th century.
  • It situated approximately 235 km away in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu.
  • The lake, located near Kattumannarkoil, has a storage capacity of around 1,465 million cubic feet (mcft) and plays a vital role in supplying water to Chennai.

Historical Significance of Veeranam Lake

  • Constructed during the 10th century by Rajaditya Chola, a ruler of the Greater Cholas.
  • It was originally named as Veeranarayana Mangalam Lake,
  • It was built with the efforts of Rajaditya Chola and his soldiers during their leisure time while camped at Thirumunaipadi for a war against Pallava kings.

Water Sources and Inflow

  • Veeranam Lake primarily receives water from the Kollidam River via the Vadavaru River.
  • The lake’s inflow is supplemented by water released from the Mettur dam through the Kollidam River and Lower Anicut, ensuring sufficient water availability during certain periods.

PYQ:

[2018] Which one of the following is an artificial lake?

(a) Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu)

(b) Kolleru (Andhra Pradesh)

(c) Nainital (Uttarakhand)

(d) Renuka (Himachal Pradesh)

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Private: Water Crisis and West Asia Conflict

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Locations mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • Recently Iran launched missile attacks on Israel, escalating tensions in the region.

Why discuss this?

  • West Asia is facing severe water scarcity issues, with prominent water bodies disappearing or on the verge of disappearing.
  • Hydrological conflicts are intertwined with political and military tensions.

Crisis-ridden Water Bodies of West Asia

Location Significance Threats
Helmand River Afghanistan, Iran Irrigation, hydropower Friction over water usage, conflicts
Lake Gavkhouni Iran, near Isfahan End point of Zayandeh Rud, local ecology Reduced river flow, environmental degradation
Lake Hamoun Iran-Afghanistan border Transboundary lake, local ecosystems Reduced water inflow, upstream damming
Dead Sea Jordan, Israel, Palestine Saltiness, historical importance Shrinking, reduced water inflow
Red Sea Between Africa and Arabian Peninsula Maritime route, biodiversity Pollution, overfishing, geopolitical tensions
Persian Gulf Between Iran and Arabian Peninsula Oil transportation, regional economy Pollution, habitat degradation, tensions between regional powers
Bab el Mandeb Connects Red Sea to Gulf of Aden Maritime chokepoint, international shipping Piracy, maritime accidents, regional conflicts
Strait of Hormuz Connects Persian Gulf to Gulf of Oman Oil chokepoint, global energy security Military tensions, maritime disputes, geopolitical rivalries

 

Important Rivers in the Region

Location Ends in Significance Threats
Tigris River Iraq, Turkey, Syria Shatt al-Arab Mesopotamian civilization, vital water source Upstream dam construction, water diversion
Euphrates River Turkey, Syria, Iraq Shatt al-Arab Historical importance, water supply Similar threats as Tigris
Jordan River Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria Dead Sea Biblical significance, geopolitical importance Reduced flow, water diversion, political tensions
Zayandeh Rud River Iran, particularly Isfahan province Lake Gavkhouni Local water source, agricultural significance Water diversion, mismanagement, protests
Helmand River Afghanistan, Iran Sistan Basin Irrigation, hydropower Friction over water usage, conflicts

 

PYQ:

[2020] Consider the following pairs?

River – Flows into

  1. Mekong — Andaman sea
  2. Thames — Irish Sea
  3. Volga — Caspian Sea
  4. Zambezi — Indian Ocean

Which of the pairs above is/are correctly matched?

(a) Only 1

(b) Only 2

(c) 3 only

(d) None of the above/More than one of the above

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NDSA expert panel to examine Kaleshwaram Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project, Godavari River

Mains level: Issue of Dam Safety in India

Kaleshwaram Project

In the news

  • The Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) has been under scrutiny following concerns over the sinking of piers at the Medigadda barrage.
  • To address these issues, National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) will conduct a thorough examination of the project.

What is Kaleshwaram Project?

Details
Location Kaleshwaram village, Telangana, India

Earlier called as Pranahita-Chevella Lift Irrigation Project

Confluence Point Pranhita-Godavari River confluence
Project Size Claimed to be the world’s largest multi-stage and multi-purpose lift irrigation project
Key Features Series of underground and surface water pumping stations, stretching over 300 km
Purpose Supply water to 45 lakh acres in Telangana
Commencement Started in 2016, utilizing approximately 283 TMC of water from the Godavari River
Components Divided into 7 links and 28 packages through 13 districts

Aims to source a total of 240 TMC of water

Construction of barrage at Medigadda, with water reverse-pumped into the Godavari River

Major Pumping Facilities Ramadugu (largest), Medaram, Annaram, and Sundilla

 

 

About Godavari River

 

  • The Godavari River, also known as Dakshin Ganga, is the largest peninsular river system in the region.
  • Its basin is bordered by the Satmala hills to the north, the Ajanta range and Mahadeo hills to the south, the Eastern Ghats to the east, and the Western Ghats to the west.
  • Originating from Trimbakeshwar near Nasik in Maharashtra, the Godavari River flows for approximately 1465 km before reaching the Bay of Bengal.
  • The Godavari basin spans across Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha, with smaller portions in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and the UT of Puducherry.
  • Right bank tributaries include the Pravara, Manjira, and Maner.
  • Left bank tributaries comprise the Purna, Pranhita, Indravati, and Sabari rivers.

 

About National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA): Ensuring Dam Safety in India

The NDSA plays a crucial role in maintaining the safety standards of dams across the country.

  • Constitutional Basis: Although water management falls under the State List, the Union government has the authority to enact laws related to dam safety under Article 246 of the Constitution. (Parliament holds the power to make laws for any part of India not included within a State, irrespective of whether the subject falls under the State List.)
  • Dam Safety Act, 2021: Parliament has passed the Dam Safety Act to establish an institutional mechanism for ensuring dam safety in India.

Objectives and Functions

  • Institutional Mechanism: The NDSA is tasked with maintaining standards for dam safety, preventing dam-related disasters, and addressing interstate concerns regarding dams.
  • Leadership Structure: The authority is headed by a chairman and supported by five members with expertise in various domains, including policy and research, technical aspects, regulation, disaster management, resilience, and administration and finance.
  • Surveillance and Inspection: Special provisions are in place for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of all large dams in the country to prevent dam failure-related disasters.
  • Penal Provisions: The Dam Safety Act includes penal provisions and a list of offenses along with corresponding penalties to ensure compliance.

Organizational Setup

  • Headquarters: The headquarters of the NDSA is located in the National Capital Region (NCR).
  • Regional Offices: The authority is supported by four regional offices strategically positioned across the country to facilitate efficient oversight and management of dam safety.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2015:

Q.Consider the following rivers:

  1. Vamsadhara
  2. Indravati
  3. Pranahita
  4. Pennar

Which of the rivers given above are the tributaries of Godavari?

(a) 1, 2 and 3

(b) 2, 3 and 4

(c) 1, 2 and 4

(d) 2 and 3 only

Post your responses here.
0
Please leave a feedback on thisx


Also Read:

[Sansad TV] Perspective: Concerns over Dam Safety

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Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP)

Mains level: Read the attached story

Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP)

In the news

  • Despite the recent agreement between India and Nepal, discussions over the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP) remain deadlocked.

About Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP)

  • It is a bi-national project between India and Nepal, aimed primarily at energy production and enhancing irrigation in both countries.
  • It involves the construction of a 315-meter high dam across the River Mahakali (Sarada in India).
  • It forms an 80 km long reservoir with a surface area of 116 km square and a total gross storage volume of about 11.35 billion cubic meters.
  • Once completed, the PMP is expected to have a capacity of 5,040 megawatts (MW) and will be among the tallest dams globally, with an estimated cost ranging from Rs. 401.84 billion to Rs. 500 billion.
  • The project’s objectives include energy production and irrigation enhancement, but environmentalists have raised concerns about its potential impact on the region’s ecology and local communities.
  • This project underscores the progress of the Mahakali Treaty signed in February 1996 between India and Nepal includes provisions for the integrated development of the Mahakali River basin.

Obstacles to Progress

  • Benefit Sharing: Disagreements arise over the distribution of benefits, with India receiving a larger share of irrigation benefits while Nepal emphasizes the value of water as a precious resource.
  • Political and Bureaucratic Challenges: Political considerations, including impending elections in India and domestic political fragility in Nepal, hinder progress. Bureaucratic concerns further impede consensus-building.

Back2Basics: Mahakali Treaty

Details
Mahakali River Also known as Sharda River or Kali Ganga in Uttarakhand.

Joins Ghagra River in Uttar Pradesh, a tributary of the Ganga.

Signatories and Date Signed between Nepal and India on February 12, 1996.
Objective Aimed at the integrated development of the Mahakali River, including projects like the Sarada Barrage, Tanakpur Barrage, and Pancheshwar Project.
Ratification Process Required a two-thirds majority in the combined session of both houses of the Nepalese parliament.

Faced opposition and scrutiny from parliamentarians during the process.

Establishment of Commission Provision for the establishment of a Mahakali River Commission to oversee and regulate matters outlined in the treaty.

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In news: Kiru Hydel Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kiru Hydel Project

Mains level: NA

Kiru Hydel Project

Introduction

  • The CBI has conducted searches at 12 locations in Delhi and Rajasthan regarding alleged corruption in the award of civil works worth ₹2,200 crore related to the Kiru hydroelectric power project.

About Kiru Hydel Project

  • Location: Situated over the Chenab River near Patharnakki and Kiru villages in Kishtwar district, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
  • Capacity: A 624MW run-of-river project.
  • Developers: Chenab Valley Power Projects (CVPP), a joint venture of National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC, 49%), Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC, 49%), and Power Trading Corporation (PTC, 2%).
  • Beneficiary States: J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Rajasthan, Union territories of Chandigarh & Delhi.
  • The Hydropower Plant consists of :
    1. 135m-high concrete gravity dam near Kiru.
    2. Catchment area of 10,225km², with a 6.5km-long and 1.03km² reservoir.
    3. 700m-long horse-shoe shaped diversion tunnel with two openings to divert river flow for dam construction.

Back2Basics: Run-of-the-River Hydroelectric Systems

  • These systems harness energy from flowing water to generate electricity without the need for a large dam and reservoir, distinguishing them from conventional impoundment hydroelectric facilities.
  • Run-of-the-river projects utilize the natural flow of rivers, diverting a portion of the water through turbines to generate electricity.
  • This minimizes environmental impact compared to traditional dam projects.
  • They have lower ecological disruption, reduced flood risk, and faster project implementation compared to conventional hydroelectric dams.

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Cauvery pact: a controversial journey

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Geographical locations of dams

Mains level: Interstate water disputes

 

Krishna Raja Sagar Dam

Central Idea:

The article recounts the historical background and negotiations leading to the Agreement between the states of Mysore and Madras regarding the construction and regulation of dams on the Cauvery River. It highlights the challenges faced, key terms agreed upon, and the significance of the agreement in resolving disputes and laying down principles for water management in the region.

Key Highlights:

  • M. Visvesvaraya’s proposal for the Krishnarajasagara (KRS) reservoir in 1910.
  • Arbitration led by Sir H.D. Griffin resulting in the approval of the KRS dam project.
  • Friction between Madras and Mysore over the execution of the dam’s next phase.
  • Negotiations and arbitration processes spanning several years.
  • Drafting of rules for the regulation of KRS and other reservoirs.
  • The signing of the Agreement, facilitating the construction of KRS and Mettur dams.
  • Consent for irrigation projects and assurance of water supplies to Madras.
  • Perception of the agreement as a fair settlement by Mysore’s Dewan, A.R. Banerji.

Key Challenges:

  • Disputes over water rights and dam construction between upper and lower riparian states.
  • Lengthy negotiations and arbitration processes due to differing interests and concerns.
  • Balancing the need for irrigation expansion with the preservation of water resources.
  • Ensuring equitable distribution of water while addressing the concerns of both states.

Main Terms:

  • Construction of KRS and Mettur dams.
  • Limitation on new irrigation areas under the Mettur project.
  • Formulation of rules for the regulation of reservoirs.
  • Assurance of water supplies to Madras.
  • Review of certain stipulations after 50 years.

Important Phrases:

  • “Kannambadi Arbitration Case”
  • “Prescriptive right of Madras”
  • “Broader settlement”
  • “Give and take”
  • “British hand”

Quotes:

  • “A fair and honourable settlement.” – A.R. Banerji, Mysore Dewan.
  • “The spirit of ‘give and take’ reigned throughout.” – A.R. Banerji.
  • “No British hand behind the settlement.” – A.R. Banerji.

Anecdotes:

  • Sir H.D. Griffin’s swift arbitration process.
  • Negotiations between Mysore and Madras officials.
  • A.R. Banerji’s statement in The Hindu.

Useful Statements:

  • “The pact allowed a review of certain stipulations of the agreement after 50 years.”
  • “The agreement was perceived as a fair settlement by both parties involved.”
  • “Balancing irrigation expansion with water resource preservation was a key challenge.”

Examples and References:

  • Construction of the KRS and Mettur dams.
  • Negotiation processes between Madras and Mysore officials.
  • A.R. Banerji’s statement published in The Hindu.

Facts and Data:

  • Construction of KRS with a capacity of 44.83 TMC.
  • Limitation of new irrigation areas under the Mettur project to 3.01 lakh acres.
  • Review of certain stipulations after 50 years.

Critical Analysis:

The Agreement marked a significant milestone in resolving the Cauvery River dispute between Mysore and Madras. Despite initial challenges and differing interests, the agreement laid down principles for water management and established a framework for future cooperation. While perceptions may vary, A.R. Banerji’s statement underscores the agreement’s perceived fairness and the spirit of cooperation between the two states.

Way Forward:

The Agreement serves as a historical precedent for resolving interstate water disputes through negotiation and compromise. Moving forward, stakeholders should build upon this foundation to address evolving water management challenges, ensuring equitable distribution and sustainable use of water resources in the region. Cooperation and dialogue remain essential for fostering lasting solutions to water-related conflicts.

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In news: Nohar Irrigation Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nohar Irrigation Project, Indira Gandhi Canal

Mains level: Lift Irrigation Projects in India

nohar

Introduction

  • The Nohar irrigation project, supplying water to the agricultural fields in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan, is getting a boost with the repairing of Ferozepur feeder in neighbouring Punjab.

About Nohar Irrigation Project

Description
Location Located in the Nohar region of the Hanumangarh district in the state of Rajasthan, India.
Purpose To improve irrigation facilities in the region, thereby increasing agricultural productivity and supporting the livelihoods of local farmers.
Irrigation Methods Canal irrigation and the construction of check dams, reservoirs, and water storage facilities.
Water Source Indira Gandhi Canal
Rivers Situated near the Ghaggar-Hakra River

A seasonal river originating in the Shivalik Hills


Back2Basics: Indira Gandhi Canal

Description
Origin Harike Barrage, Punjab
History Conceived by hydraulic engineer Kanwar Sain in the late 1940s, construction began in 1960
Length 612 km

Longest canal in India

Rivers Utilizes water from the Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi rivers
Location Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan
Purpose Irrigation and water supply
Renaming Renamed from Rajasthan Canal to Indira Gandhi Canal in 1984 after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

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Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and its provisions

Mains level: Preventing River Water Pollution

Introduction

  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024 was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on February 5, 2024, aiming to amend the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  • This legislation, instrumental in establishing central and state pollution control boards (CPCB and SPCBs), undergoes significant modifications under the proposed Bill, primarily concerning penalties and regulatory mechanisms.

About Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

Description
Objective To prevent and control water pollution and maintain or restore the wholesomeness of water resources
Applicability Applies to the entire territory of India, including streams, rivers, lakes, inland water bodies, subterranean waters, and territorial waters of the country
Establishments Establishes Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) at the central level and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) at the state level
Standards and Regulations Empowers Pollution Control Boards to prescribe standards for the discharge of pollutants and quality of water for various purposes
Consent Mechanism Requires industries and establishments to obtain prior consent from Pollution Control Boards before discharging pollutants into water bodies
Penalties and Enforcement Specifies penalties for contravention, including fines and imprisonment; authorizes officers to inspect premises, take samples, and issue directives for compliance

 

Key Amendments Proposed:

[A] Consent Exemptions for Establishing Industries

  • Prior Consent Requirement: Currently, the Act mandates obtaining consent from SPCBs for setting up industries or treatment plants likely to discharge sewage into water bodies.
  • Bill Provisions: The Bill empowers the central government, in consultation with the CPCB, to exempt certain industrial categories from seeking consent. It also authorizes the central government to issue guidelines for the grant, refusal, or cancellation of such consent.
  • Penalties: Violating the consent requirement or tampering with monitoring devices incurs penalties ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15 lakh.

[B] Chairman of State Board

  • Nomination Process: While the Act vests state governments with the authority to nominate SPCB chairpersons, the Bill introduces central government-prescribed nomination procedures and terms of service.

[C] Discharge of Polluting Matter

  • Regulatory Measures: The SPCBs can issue directives to halt activities leading to the discharge of harmful substances into water bodies.
  • Penalties: Contraventions against pollution standards attract penalties ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15 lakh, replacing the previous imprisonment provisions.
  • Amended Provisions: The Bill replaces imprisonment with penalties between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15 lakh for unspecified offences under the Act.

[D] Adjudication Mechanism

  • Appointment of Officers: It allows the central government to designate adjudication officers, with appeals against their decisions to be lodged before the National Green Tribunal.
  • Penalty Utilization: Fines collected are directed to the Environment Protection Fund established under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

[E] Cognizance of Offences

  • Expanded Scope: The Bill extends the entities empowered to file complaints to include adjudication officers, alongside CPCB and SPCB.
  • Penalization: Heads of departments are subject to penalties equal to one month’s basic salary if their departments violate the Act, reinforcing accountability within government bodies.

Challenges with the Bill

  • Lack of Oversight: Granting exemptions for certain industrial categories from seeking consent may lead to increased pollution levels if not properly regulated.
  • Risk of Unchecked Discharge: Lack of oversight could result in unchecked discharge of pollutants into water bodies, compromising water quality and public health.
  • Centralized Nomination Process: Central government-prescribed nomination procedures for the appointment of State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) chairpersons may undermine the autonomy of state governments.
  • Reduced Deterrence: Replacing imprisonment provisions with penalties for contraventions against pollution standards may reduce the deterrence effect.
  • Questionable Adjudication Process: Allowing the central government to designate adjudication officers may raise questions about the impartiality and independence of the adjudication process.
  • Potential Administrative Inefficiencies: Extending the entities empowered to file complaints may lead to overlapping jurisdictions and administrative inefficiencies, resulting in delays and bureaucratic hurdles.

Way Forward

  • Enhanced Regulation: Implement stringent monitoring and regulatory mechanisms to ensure compliance with pollution standards and prevent unauthorized discharge of pollutants into water bodies.
  • Stakeholder Consultation: Conduct extensive consultations with environmental experts, industry representatives, and civil society organizations to address concerns and refine the proposed amendments.
  • Capacity Building: Provide training and capacity-building programs for Pollution Control Boards to enhance their skills in enforcing environmental regulations effectively.
  • Transparency and Accountability: Ensure transparency in the exemption process and establish accountability mechanisms to uphold the integrity of regulatory decisions.
  • Public Awareness: Conduct public awareness campaigns to educate industries and the general public about the importance of water conservation and pollution prevention measures.

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Providing clean water to all

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jal Jeevan Mission

Mains level: commendable progress in addressing rural water needs

4 Ways to Provide Clean Water | Healing Waters International

 

Central Idea: The Jal Jeevan Mission, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019, has made significant strides in providing tap water to rural households in India, with a focus on addressing diverse regional challenges. The mission aims to ensure clean water access to every rural household, promoting health, hygiene, and overall well-being. The approach is characterized by a commitment to inclusivity, community involvement, and sustainable development.

Key Highlights:

  • Tap water provided to 73% of rural households, benefiting over 14 crore households.
  • Diverse strategies employed, including insulated pipes, multi-village schemes, and community water purification plants.
  • Notable improvements observed in areas such as reduced migration, minimized human-animal conflicts, and revived celebratory events.
  • Impact extends beyond clean water provision to encompass safety, health, and environmental benefits.
  • Studies indicate potential reduction in infant deaths, prevention of diarrhoeal deaths, and significant economic savings.

Key Challenges:

  • Infrastructural challenges due to diverse terrains and geographical variations.
  • Customizing solutions for different regional needs.
  • Ensuring sustainability and community involvement in the long term.

Key Terms:

  • Jal Jeevan Mission: Government initiative aimed at providing tap water to rural households.
  • Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas aur Sabka Prayas: Guiding principle emphasizing inclusive development.
  • Nal Jal Mitra: Initiative empowering villagers with skills for maintaining water supply systems.

Key Phrases:

  • “No one is left behind”: Core theme emphasizing inclusivity.
  • “Elixir of life”: Reference to the importance of water for well-being.

Key Quotes:

  • “The growth story of the Jal Jeevan Mission is not confined to data; changes can be seen on the ground.”
  • “True development is not just about infrastructure; it is about bringing in a sense of community.”

Key Statements:

  • The mission focuses on long-term, regular access to quality water for every rural household.
  • Community involvement, especially of women and youth, is integral to the mission’s success.

Key Examples and References:

  • Kyarkuli Bhatta in Uttarakhand, Kusumdih in Jharkhand, and Chandpur in Maharashtra cited as examples of positive changes due to the mission.
  • Studies by Dr. Michael Kremer and the World Health Organization provide evidence of the mission’s positive impact.

Critical Analysis:

The Jal Jeevan Mission has made commendable progress in addressing rural water needs. The tailored approach to diverse challenges, inclusion of communities, and the focus on holistic development contribute to its success. Continuous monitoring, transparency, and data-driven decision-making are strengths. Challenges lie in sustaining community involvement and ensuring long-term infrastructure stability.

Way Forward:

  • Continue prioritizing community involvement and inclusivity.
  • Strengthen monitoring mechanisms for long-term sustainability.
  • Emphasize skill development for rural communities to ensure self-reliance in maintaining water supply systems.
  • Explore innovative solutions for regions with unique challenges.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Progress track: National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) aims to clean the Ganga River by treating sewage generated in five major states through sewage treatment plants (STPs) and sewerage networks.
  • Over seven years, NMCG has achieved 20% sewage treatment capacity, with a target of 60% by December 2026.

About National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

Objective Restore and rejuvenate the Ganga River and its tributaries, ensuring their ecological and geological health
Formation Year 2014
Nodal Agency Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India
Coverage Encompasses Ganga and its major tributaries
Key Areas Pollution control, riverfront development, biodiversity conservation, afforestation, and public awareness
Projects Ghat and crematoria development, sewage treatment plants, river surface cleaning, and more
Holistic Approach Integrates various government initiatives, stakeholders, and public participation
Collaborations Partnerships with state governments, NGOs, international agencies, and private sector
Legal Measures National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) established for river protection
Significance Addresses ecological, social, and cultural aspects while ensuring sustainable water quality

Current and Future Sewage Treatment Capacity

  • As of now, NMCG treats about 20% of sewage generated in the Ganga river basin.
  • The treatment capacity is projected to reach 33% by 2024 and 60% by December 2026.
  • Sewage generation is estimated at 11,765 million litres per day (MLD) across five states: Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal.

Role of NMCG

  • NMCG aims to prevent untreated sewage from flowing into the Ganga River.
  • The 11,765 MLD projection includes sewage generated within the states but not necessarily flowing into the river.
  • NMCG’s plan includes setting up 7,000 MLD sewage treatment capacity by 2026.

Projects and Progress

  • STPs and sewerage networks constitute about 80% of the NMCG project.
  • By July 2023, functional STPs treat 2,665 MLD, with 1,455 MLD added in the last financial year.
  • Delayed projects resulted from land acquisition issues and revisions in Detailed Project Reports.

State-wise Distribution

  • Most STPs are in Uttarakhand (36), followed by Uttar Pradesh (35) and West Bengal (11).
  • Despite NMCG’s ₹20,000 crore budget, in-principle approval has been given for projects worth ₹37,396 crore, with ₹14,745 crore released for infrastructure work by June 2023.

Conclusion

  • NMCG’s progress signifies a positive trajectory in Ganga River restoration, reflected in improved water quality and enhanced aquatic life.
  • The mission’s efforts continue to tackle sewage treatment challenges and promote cleaner water resources.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Turtle Rehabilitation: A Crucial Element in Ganges Conservation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Turtle Rehabilitation

Mains level: Not Muchga

turtle

Central Idea

  • Hundreds of turtles will be released into the river as a joint endeavour between the Namami Gange Programme, the Forest and Wildlife Department, and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
  • These turtles, hatched at a breeding and rehabilitation center in Varanasi, aim to contribute to the cleanliness and rejuvenation of the sacred Ganges.

Turtle Rehabilitation Center: A Crucial Element in Ganges Conservation

  • Significance: The turtle rehabilitation center in Varanasi, established under the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) in the late 1980s, plays a pivotal role in the conservation of the Ganges River.
  • Achievements: Over 40,000 turtles have been released from the center, with approximately 28,000 turtles released during the initial phase of the GAP.
  • Renewed Focus: The center has gained renewed attention and support following the launch of the Namami Gange Programme in 2014, a flagship initiative of the Central government aimed at combating pollution and restoring the river’s ecological balance.

Strengthening the Ganges Clean-up Efforts

  • Turtle Population: The center nurtures around a dozen turtle species, including herbivores and carnivores, which are vital in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.
  • Collection of Eggs: The Forest and Wildlife Department collects turtle eggs from the coastal areas of the Chambal region.
  • Controlled Hatching Process: The eggs are carefully monitored for 70 days in a specially designed room for hatching. They are buried in sand-filled wooden boxes placed on a water-filled ground with bricks on top.
  • Monitoring and Care: After hatching between June and July, the turtles are observed and nurtured in an artificial pond for two years to ensure their health and readiness for release into the river.

Role of Turtles in Ganges Restoration

  • Impact on Water Quality: Turtles contribute to improving the quality of the Ganges by feeding on meat and waste products present in the river.
  • Positive Indicators: Water quality assessments conducted by the Namami Gange Programme reveal improvements in biochemical demand (BOD), faecal coliform (FC), and dissolved oxygen (DO) levels.
  • Government’s Findings: The Uttar Pradesh Government confirmed that the pH levels at various locations, including Varanasi, meet bathing water quality criteria, while DO, BOD, and FC levels have shown improvement at 16, 14, and 18 out of 20 locations, respectively.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Har Ghar Jal Initiative to miss 2024 target

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Har Ghar Jal Initiative

Mains level: NA

har ghar jal

Central Idea

  • The Har Ghar Jal initiative, part of the Jal Jeevan Mission, aims to provide potable water connections to all rural households in India by 2024.
  • However, multiple sources and data analysis indicate that the initiative is likely to fall short of its target, with only 75% of village homes expected to have drinking water taps by April 2024.

Har Ghar Jal Initiative: A quick recap

  • Har Ghar Jal (translation: Water to Every Household) is a scheme initiated by the Ministry of Jal Shakti under Jal Jeevan Mission in 2019.
  • It aimed to provide tap water to every rural household by 2024.
  • Finance Minister announced the scheme in 2019 Union budget.
  • In August 2022, Goa and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu became the first ‘Har Ghar Jal’ certified State and UT respectively with 100% tap-water access.
  • As of January 2023, other states and UTs Gujarat, Puducherry and Telangana have also achieved 100% tap-water access.
  • Since its inception, the scheme has significantly improved household clean tap water availability in India.

Challenges Faced by the Initiative

  • Delayed Progress: The COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of qualified manpower in states have contributed to the delayed implementation of the scheme.
  • Shortages of Essential Materials: The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war resulted in major shortages of steel and cement, crucial for manufacturing and connecting metal pipes, leading to delays and price revisions.
  • Manpower Shortage: Some states faced challenges in finding skilled workers to construct tanks, cisterns, and water connections of acceptable quality.
  • State-Specific Issues: Certain states, such as Rajasthan, face challenges in ensuring the availability of water, while West Bengal and Kerala struggle with water contamination issues.
  • Certification Gap: While the states report high coverage figures, there is a significant gap between reported and verified connections.

Expectations and Progress

  • Revised Expectations: The officials now expect about 75% of households to be covered by March 2024 and 80% by December 2024.
  • Work Yet to Begin: Around one crore households (5% of the total) have not even begun work under the scheme.
  • Timeframe Challenges: Connecting all households in villages that already have access to water sources takes an average of eight months, making it unlikely to finish in some places before 2025-26.

Political Factors and Connection Status

  • Political Angle: Some states, like Bihar and Telangana, did not rely on central funds and did not certify their connection status due to political considerations.
  • Significance of Certification: “Har Ghar Jal” villages certified as 100% compliant prominently display the images of the Prime Minister and Chief Minister, especially if Central funds were used.

 

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR): A Water-Saving Alternative for Paddy Cultivation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR)

Mains level: Read the attached story

rice paddy direct

Central Idea

  • The ongoing southwest monsoon season in India has registered a deficiency of 37.2% in rainfall.
  • Weak monsoon affects paddy cultivation, a water-intensive crop.
  • This article explores the Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) as a water-saving alternative to traditional transplanting methods in the context of deficient rainfall.

Understanding Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR)

  • DSR is the method of directly sowing paddy in the field without nursery preparation, puddling, or flooding.
  • Traditional transplanting methods use flooded fields to suppress weed growth and provide oxygen to the roots.
  • DSR replaces water with chemical herbicides for weed control.
  • DSR offers potential water savings and reduces irrigation dependency during early crop stages.

DSR Technique and Water Savings

  • Field Preparation: Ploughing, laser levelling, and soil compaction to retain moisture.
  • Sowing: Using DSR machines for direct sowing in the field.
  • Weed Control: Application of pre-emergent herbicides to suppress weed germination.
  • Reduced Irrigation: First irrigation required 18-20 days after sowing, reducing water usage.

Benefits and Cost Savings

  • Water Savings: DSR reduces the total number of irrigations compared to traditional methods.
  • Labor Savings: DSR machines cover larger areas in less time, reducing labor requirements and costs.
  • Herbicide Costs: Additional expenses for herbicides are offset by savings in labor costs.

Challenges and Adoption of DSR

  • Subsidized Electricity: Availability of subsidized or free electricity for irrigation reduces incentives for DSR adoption.
  • Machine Design: Limited access to well-designed and efficient DSR machines hampers widespread adoption.
  • Proper Plant Spacing: Achieving optimal plant-to-plant distance is crucial for successful DSR.
  • Policy Incentives: State governments offering financial incentives for DSR adoption, such as in Haryana and Punjab.

Environmental and Sustainability Benefits

  • Conservation of Water Resources: DSR reduces water consumption and contributes to water conservation efforts.
  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: DSR eliminates the need for flooding fields, reducing methane emissions.
  • Soil Health and Erosion Prevention: DSR promotes soil health by minimizing soil disturbance and erosion risks.

Future Outlook

  • Government Initiatives: Promoting DSR through subsidies, awareness campaigns, and support for efficient machine development.
  • Research and Development: Continuous research to improve DSR techniques, herbicide efficiency, and machine design.
  • Farmer Education and Training: Enhancing knowledge and capacity-building programs to encourage wider DSR adoption.
  • Future Prospects: Increasing DSR adoption can contribute to sustainable agriculture and resilience against water scarcity.

Conclusion

  • Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) offers a viable water-saving alternative to traditional transplanting methods.
  • Adoption of DSR can mitigate the impact of deficient rainfall and water scarcity.
  • Development of efficient DSR machines, supportive policies, and continuous research are crucial for widespread adoption of this sustainable farming technique.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Jal Jeevan Mission: Saving Lives through Access to Piped Water

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jal Jeevan Mission

Mains level: Read the attached story

jal jeevan mission water

Central Idea

  • Potable water: The Jal Jeevan Mission aims to provide piped potable water to all of India.
  • Potential Life-Saving Impact: If successful, the mission could avert nearly 400000 deaths from diarrhoea.
  • Reduction in Disease Burden: The mission could avoid 14 million DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years) related to diarrhoea.

Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY)

  • DALY is a metric used to measure the burden of disease on a population.
  • It combines years of life lost due to premature mortality (YLLs) and years lived with a disability (YLDs) into a single measure.
  • DALYs provide a comprehensive assessment of the impact of diseases, injuries, and disabilities by quantifying both the years of healthy life lost and the years lived with a disability.
  • This metric helps policymakers and researchers prioritize health interventions and allocate resources effectively to address the overall disease burden in a population.

 

About Jal Jeevan Mission

  • Launch: Government initiative launched in 2019
  • Goal: Provide access to clean and piped drinking water to every rural household
  • Focus: Water supply infrastructure development, community participation, water quality monitoring
  • Objective: Improve health, well-being, and productivity of rural communities, Addressing challenges of water scarcity, contamination, and inadequate infrastructure
  • Target: Achieve 100% coverage by 2024 for reliable and sustainable water supply
  • Definition of functional Connection: A fully functional tap water connection means receiving at least 55 litres of potable water per capita per day throughout the year

The key objectives of the Jal Jeevan Mission include:

  1. Universal coverage: Mission aims to achieve tap water connections for all rural households, ensuring access to potable water within premises.
  2. Sustainability: Focus on long-term sustainability through community participation, water resource management, and water conservation practices.
  3. Quality assurance: Prioritizing safe and clean drinking water by implementing water quality monitoring systems and adhering to prescribed standards set by BIS.
  4. Convergence and coordination: Emphasis on collaboration among stakeholders to effectively achieve mission objectives.

Socioeconomic Benefits of the Mission

  • Economic Savings: The study suggests that the mission could save close to $101 billion.
  • Time Savings: It could save 66.6 million hours per day that would have been spent collecting water, primarily by women.
  • Improved Quality of Life: Access to piped water connections would enhance convenience and overall well-being.
  • Sanitation benefits: Every dollar invested in sanitation interventions yields a $4.3 return in reduced healthcare costs.

Progress status of the scheme

  • Current Coverage Levels: Around 62% of rural households have piped water connections.
  • States and UTs at Full Coverage: Five states and three Union Territories have reported 100% coverage.
  • Progress of states: Himachal Pradesh is at 98.87% coverage, while Bihar is at 96.30% and nearing saturation.

Limitations and Considerations of the Study

  • Extrapolation of Data: The study extrapolates data and does not compute current levels of coverage.
  • Contamination Concerns: The study does not account for the degree of contamination in the piped water provided.
  • Data Sources: The authors used population data from the United Nations, the 2018 National Sample Survey, and water quality data collected by the Jal Jeevan Mission.

Challenges Addressed by the Mission

  • Water scarcity: Mission aims to tackle the challenge of inadequate water availability in rural areas.
  • Contamination: Focus on improving water quality and addressing issues of waterborne diseases.
  • Infrastructure gaps: Efforts to bridge the gap in water supply infrastructure in rural regions.

Way forward

  • Enhancing Capacity of Local Bodies: Provide support and resources to strengthen the capacity of local governance institutions in effectively managing and governing rural water supply systems.
  • Promoting Community Participation: Foster active community participation in decision-making processes related to water infrastructure planning, implementation, and maintenance.
  • Empowering Local Water User Committees: Strengthen the role of local water user committees in monitoring and regulating water supply services, promoting their active involvement in decision-making.
  • Participatory Planning: Facilitate participatory planning processes, where water user associations actively contribute to the development of water management plans, considering local needs and priorities.

 

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Arsenic Contamination in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Arsenic Poisoning

Mains level: Not Much

arsenic

Central Idea: A recent peer-reviewed study suggests that even low levels of arsenic consumption can affect cognitive function in children, adolescents, and young adults.

Arsenic Contamination

  • Arsenic is a highly toxic element naturally present in the environment.
  • Contaminated water, particularly groundwater, is a major source of arsenic exposure.
  • Long-term arsenic exposure can lead to various health issues, including cancer, skin lesions, cardiovascular disease, and negative impacts on cognitive development.

Menace in India

  • Arsenic contamination in groundwater is one of the most crippling issues in the drinking water scenario of India.
  • According to the latest report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), 21 states across the country have pockets with arsenic levels higher than the BIS stipulated permissible limit of 0.01 milligram per litre (mg/l).
  • The states along the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basin — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam — are the worst affected by this human-amplified geogenic occurrence.
  • In India, arsenic contamination was first officially confirmed in West Bengal in 1983.
  • Close to four decades after its detection, the scenario has worsened.
  • About 9.6 million people in West Bengal, 1.6 million in Assam, 1.2 million in Bihar, 0.5 million in Uttar Pradesh and 0.013 million in Jharkhand are at immediate risk from arsenic contamination in groundwater.

Key findings of the recent study

(1) Arsenic impact on behaviour

  • The study found that individuals exposed to arsenic had reduced grey matter and weaker connections within key regions of the brain associated with cognitive functions.
  • Chronic exposure to arsenic could have significant consequences at a population level, leading to increased school failures, diminished economic productivity, and higher risks of criminal and antisocial behavior.

(2) Arsenic Exposure and Socioeconomic Factors

  • As previous studies have shown, arsenic exposure is particularly harmful to the poor.
  • The recent study reaffirms that economically and nutritionally disadvantaged individuals experience greater cognitive impairment from arsenic exposure.
  • The impact of arsenic on impairing cognition is more pronounced at a collective level rather than at an individual level.

Government Initiatives to address Arsenic Contamination

  • Governments in Bihar and West Bengal have taken steps to address arsenic contamination since the 1990s.
  • Strategies include promoting piped water access, installing arsenic removal plants, and encouraging groundwater extraction from deeper aquifers with lower arsenic levels.
  • The goal is to minimize arsenic exposure and mitigate its health impacts in affected regions.

Possible solutions

Some of the management options include

  • Uses of surface water sources
  • Exploring and harnessing alternate arsenic-free aquifer
  • Removal of arsenic from groundwater using arsenic treatment plants/filters
  • Adopting rainwater harvesting/ watershed management practices.

 

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Groundwater Extraction and Land Subsidence

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Groundwater exploitation issue

groundwater

Central Idea: Groundwater extraction in northwestern India, including Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, and Faridabad, has led to land subsidence and structural damage.

What is Groundwater?

  • Groundwater is the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock.
  • It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers.
  • Aquifers are typically made up of gravel, sand, sandstone, or fractured rock, like limestone.
  • Water can move through these materials because they have large connected spaces that make them permeable.
  • Aquifers, hand-dug wells, and artesian wells are different types of sources of groundwater.

Reasons for Depletion

  • Increased demand for water for domestic, industrial and agricultural needs and limited surface water resources lead to the over-exploitation of groundwater resources.
  • Limited storage facilities owing to the hard rock terrain, along with the added disadvantage of lack of rainfall, especially in central Indian states.
  • Green Revolution enabled water-intensive crops to be grown in drought-prone/ water deficit regions, leading to over-extraction of groundwater.
  • Frequent pumping of water from the ground without waiting for its replenishment leads to quick depletion.
  • Subsidies on electricity and high MSP for water-intensive crops is also leading reasons for depletion.
  • Inadequate regulation of groundwater laws encourages the exhaustion of groundwater resources without any penalty.
  • Deforestation, unscientific methods of agriculture, chemical effluents from industries, and lack of sanitation also lead to pollution of groundwater, making it unusable.
  • Natural causes include uneven rainfall and climate change that are hindering the process of groundwater recharge.

Impact of groundwater depletion

  • Lowering of the water table: Groundwater depletion may lower the water table leading to difficulty in extracting groundwater for usage.
  • Reduction of water in streams and lakes: A substantial amount of the water flowing in rivers comes from seepage of groundwater into the streambed. Depletion of groundwater levels may reduce water flow in such streams.
  • Subsidence of land: Groundwater often provides support to the soil. When this balance is altered by taking out the water, the soil collapses, compacts, and drops leading to subsidence of land.
  • Increased cost for water extraction: As the depleting groundwater levels lower the water table, the user has to delve deep to extract water. This will increase the cost of water extraction.

Mechanism of Land Subsidence

  • The relationship between excessive groundwater extraction and land subsidence became evident through the analysis of data from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites.
  • Excessive groundwater withdrawal, coupled with limited monsoon rain, has resulted in critically low groundwater levels in the region.
  • Land subsidence occurs when underlying aquifers, which are deep water channels storing percolated water, are not adequately recharged.
  • The depletion of aquifers causes the layers of soil and rock above them to sink gradually.
  • This sinking of soil is similar to “soil settlement” observed in mining operations.

Regulation of Groundwater in India

(1) Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA)

  • It has the mandate of regulating groundwater development and management in the country.
  • It is constituted under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986.
  • CGWA issues advisories, public notices and grant No Objection Certificates (NOC) for ground water withdrawal.

(2) National Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme (NAQUIM)

  • The NAQUIM is an initiative of the Ministry of Jal Shakti for mapping and managing the entire aquifer systems in the country.
  • It maintains the Hydrological Map of India.

(3) Atal Bhujal Yojana 

  • It is a Central Sector Scheme, for sustainable management of groundwater resources with community participation in water-stressed blocks.

Way Forward

  • Routine survey: There should be regular assessment of groundwater levels to ensure that adequate data is available for formulating policies and devising new techniques.
  • Assessment of land use pattern: Studies should be carried out to assess land use and the proportion of agricultural land falling under overt-exploited units.
  • Changes in farming methods: To improve the water table in those areas where it is being overused, on-farm water management techniques and improved irrigation methods should be adopted.
  • Reforms in power supply subsidies: The agricultural power-pricing structure needs to be revamped as the flat rate of electricity adversely affects the use of groundwater.
  • Monitoring extraction: There should be a policy in place to monitor the excessive exploitation of groundwater resources to ensure long-term sustainability.

 

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Indian Sludge Shows High Fertilizer Potential: First Study Reveals

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Namami Gange Program

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea: The article discusses the results of an analysis of the sludge found in Indian sewage treatment plants (STP) that were set up to treat polluted water from the Ganga under National Mission for Clean Ganga.

About National Mission for Clean Ganga

Description
Launch 2014
Aim Cleaning and rejuvenating the Ganga river
Interventions Development of sewage treatment infrastructure, riverfront development, and public awareness campaigns
Approach River basin approach, identifying pollution hotspots and implementing targeted interventions
Implementing Agency NMCG
Responsibilities Coordinating efforts across stakeholders, including state governments, municipalities, and civil society organizations
Objective Improve water quality and ensure ecological and socio-economic sustainability of the Ganga river

 

Sludge classification

  • India doesn’t yet have standards classifying sludge as class A or B.
  • Treated sludge can be classified as class A or class B, as per the standards of the United States Environment Protection Agency.
  1. Class A sludge: It is safe to be disposed of in the open and useful as organic fertilizer.
  2. Class B sludge: It can be used in restricted agricultural applications, with the edible parts of the crop not exposed to the sludge-mixed soil, and animals and people not come into extensive contact.

Current sludge disposal practices

  • Currently, those awarded contracts for developing and maintaining STPs under the Namami Ganga Mission are also apportioned land for disposing off sludge.
  • However, the sludge is rarely treated, and during rains, it often makes its way back into rivers and local water sources.

Study’s findings

  • The sludge analysed after drying fell into the class B category.
  • Nitrogen and phosphorus levels were higher than those recommended by India’s fertilizer standards, but potassium levels of some sludges were less than recommended.
  • The degree of pathogens, as well as heavy metal contamination, was above the recommended fertilizer standards.
  • The calorific value of sludge ranged from 1,000-3,500 kcal/kg, which is lower than the average calorific value of Indian coal.

Recommendations to improve sludge quality

  • The report recommends storing the sludge for at least three months to kill pathogens and blending it with cattle manure and husk or local soil to reduce heavy metal.
  • However, this would still put it in class B, and converting it into grade A sludge would require far more extensive treatment.

 

 

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Bharat Tap Rating System for Water Fixtures

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bharat Tap Rating, AMRUT

Mains level: Water conservation efforts

bharat tap

Central idea: The Centre is in the process of bringing in a star rating system for water fixtures similar to the ratings of electrical appliances.

Bharat Tap Rating

  • The star rating system would come under one umbrella called Bharat Tap, which was formulated under AMRUT 2.0 to drive water efficiency.
  • The initiative aims to promote and adopt water-efficient fixtures.
  • It would have 3, 4, and 5-star water fixtures based on their water efficiency.
  • This would help consumers make informed decisions while purchasing sanitary equipment.

Collaborators of the initiative

  • The Indian Plumbing Association and all manufacturers have been roped in to adopt and promote the new standards for water-efficient fixtures.

Why such move?

  • Data derived from this initiative showed that on average over 30% of water can be saved.
  • However, there was not enough data available to consumers to assist them in making informed decisions when purchasing sanitary fixtures.

Back2Basics: AMRUT 2.O

  • Water management: It will build upon the progress of AMRUT to address water needs, rejuvenate water bodies, better manage aquifers, reuse treated wastewater, thereby promoting circular economy of water.
  • Water supply: It would provide100% coverage of water supply to all households in around 4,700 ULBs.
  • Sewerage: It will provide 100% coverage of sewerage and septage in 500 AMRUT cities.
  • Rejuvenation of water bodies and urban aquifer management: It will be undertaken to augment sustainable fresh water supply.
  • Recycle and reuse of treated wastewater: It is expected to cater to 20% of total water needs of the cities and 40% of industrial demand.
  • Pey Jal Survekshan: It will be conducted in cities to ascertain equitable distribution of water, reuse of wastewater and mapping of water bodies.

 

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Water Bodies Census: First-Ever By The Ministry of Jal Shakthi

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Key findings of the Water bodies census

Mains level: Water bodies census, significance , key findings

Census

Central Idea

  • The Ministry of Jal Shakthi has released the first-ever census of water bodies in India, highlighting the number of water bodies and their usage. The census has identified 24,24,540 water bodies in India. The Census highlighted disparities between rural and urban areas and varying levels of encroachment and revealed crucial insights into the country’s water resources. The data can help in planning rural development initiatives and conserving natural resources.

Census

Definition of water bodies

  • Water bodies in this census are defined as any natural or man-made structures used for storing water for various purposes, such as irrigation, industry, fish farming, domestic use, recreation, religious activities, and groundwater recharge. They are classified as tanks, reservoirs and ponds.
  • A structure that collects water from melting ice, streams, springs, rain, or drainage from residential or other areas, or stores water diverted from a stream, nala, or river, is also considered a water body

All you need to know about the Water Bodies census

  • Launched under Irrigation Census: The census was launched under the centrally sponsored scheme, Irrigation Census in convergence with the 6th Minor Irrigation Census in order to have a comprehensive national database of all water bodies.
  • Comprehensive information: The information on all important aspects of the water bodies including their type, condition, status of encroachments, use, storage capacity, status of filling up of storage, etc was collected.
  • Extensive coverage: It covered all the water bodies located in rural as well as urban areas that are in-use or not in-use. The census also took into account all type of uses of water bodies like irrigation, industry, pisciculture, domestic/ drinking, recreation, religious, ground water recharge etc.
  • Completed and published: Census has been successfully completed and the All India and State-wise reports have been published.

The key findings of the Census

  • Disparities in rural and urban area: 24,24,540 water bodies have been enumerated in the country, out of which 97.1% (23,55,055) are in rural areas and only 2.9% (69,485) are in urban areas.
  • Manmade v/s natural water bodies and encroachment: 78% water bodies are man-made water bodies whereas 22% are natural water bodies. 1.6% (38,496) water bodies out of all the enumerated water bodies are reported to be encroached out of which 95.4% are in rural areas and remaining 4.6% in urban areas.
  • Top 5 States in terms of number of water bodies: West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Assam which constitute around 63% of the total water bodies in the country.
  1. Top 5 States in terms of number of water bodies in urban areas: West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura,
  2. Top 5 States in terms of number of water bodies in rural areas: West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Assam.
  • Categorisation of water bodies:5% of water bodies are ponds, followed by tanks (15.7%), reservoirs (12.1%), Water conservation schemes/percolation tanks/check dams (9.3%), lakes (0.9%) and others (2.5%).
  • Private ownership:2% of water bodies are owned by private entities. Out of all private owned water bodies, maximum water bodies are in hands of Individual owner/farmer followed by group of individuals and other private bodies. Top 5 States which lead in the private owned water bodies are West Bengal, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand.
  • Public ownership:8% of water bodies are in the domain of public ownership. Out of all public owned water bodies, maximum water bodies are owned by Panchayats, followed by State Irrigation/State WRD.

Census

Facts for prelims

  • West Bengal boasts of the highest number of ponds and reservoirs.
  • Andhra Pradesh the highest number of tanks.
  • Tamil Nadu the highest number of lakes.
  • Maharashtra leads in terms of water conservation initiatives.

Major use of water bodies

  • Among the total 20,30,040 utilised water bodies,
  • Pisciculture: Top 5 States wherein major use of water bodies is in pisciculture are West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Among the total 20,30,040 utilised water bodies,
  • Irrigation: Top 5 States wherein major use of water bodies is in irrigation are Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Gujarat. 16.5% (3,35,768) is dedicated to irrigation,
  • Groundwater replenishment: Among the total 20,30,040 utilised water bodies 12.1% (2,44,918) to groundwater replenishment, and
  • Domestic and drinking water:1% (2,05,197) to domestic and drinking water needs. The remaining are employed for recreational, industrial, religious and other purposes.

Importance of water bodies

  • Ecological Significance: Water bodies serve as habitats for various aquatic plants and animals, maintaining biodiversity in ecosystems. They also contribute to the regulation of water cycles, groundwater recharge, and reduction of soil erosion.
  • Social Significance: Water bodies have cultural and religious values in many societies. They also provide recreational opportunities for fishing, swimming, boating, and other leisure activities.
  • Economic Importance: They play a crucial role in agriculture, providing irrigation water to crops. They also support the fishing industry, which is a significant source of livelihood for many communities. Moreover, water bodies contribute to hydropower generation and are used for industrial and domestic purposes.
  • Climate Change Resilience: Water bodies can help mitigate the impacts of climate change by acting as carbon sinks and regulating the microclimate in surrounding areas.
  • Disaster Management: Water bodies can act as natural buffers against natural disasters such as floods and droughts. They can also help in mitigating the effects of water scarcity by providing alternative sources of water.

What is the significance of the census of water bodies?

  • Better management and conservation: The census provides an inventory of the country’s water bodies, which can help in better management and conservation of these resources. It can aid policymakers in making informed decisions about their usage and allocation, especially in areas facing water scarcity.
  • Data-driven planning: The data from the census can be used to identify the areas where water bodies are in need of restoration or protection. It can also help in identifying the gaps in availability and utilization of water resources, which can be addressed through data-driven planning and decision-making.
  • Addressing environmental concerns: The census can aid in identifying water bodies that are under threat due to pollution or other environmental concerns. Such water bodies can be prioritized for remedial action and conservation efforts.
  • Economic benefits: The census can help in identifying the potential economic benefits of the water bodies, such as for fishing, irrigation, or tourism. This can aid in promoting sustainable use of these resources and in creating livelihood opportunities for the local population.
  • Better targeting of government schemes: The census data can be used to target government schemes and programs related to water conservation and management. This can aid in ensuring that the benefits of such schemes reach the intended beneficiaries and that the resources are used effectively.

Census

Conclusion

  • The census of water bodies in India provides valuable data for planning rural development initiatives, conserving natural resources, and preventing encroachment. The data also highlights the need for sustainable water management practices and the importance of preserving natural resources for future generations. The census serves as a reminder of the importance of water bodies in supporting livelihoods, ensuring food security, and providing access to clean drinking water.

Mains Question

Q. For the first time in the country, Ministry of Jal Shakti has conducted the first-ever census of water bodies across the nation. In this backdrop, highlight key findings of the census and discuss the significance of such kind of census.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Jal Shakti Ministry plans network of Groundwater Sensors

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Groundwater in India

Mains level: Read the attached story

groundwater

Central Idea: The Jal Shakti Ministry is working on an ambitious plan to deploy a vast network of groundwater sensors to continuously relay information on groundwater levels and contamination.

What is Groundwater?

  • Groundwater is the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock.
  • It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers.
  • Aquifers are typically made up of gravel, sand, sandstone, or fractured rock, like limestone.
  • Water can move through these materials because they have large connected spaces that make them permeable.
  • Aquifers, hand-dug wells, and artesian wells are different types of sources of groundwater.

Sensors-based Groundwater Monitoring

  • Under this new initiative, around 16,000-17,000 digital water level recorders will be connected to piezometers in the wells to transmit information digitally.
  • In the next three years, the CGWB aims to increase its network from the existing 26,000 to about 40,000.
  • When combined with similar networks possessed by other institutions, India will have about 67,000 digitally recordable units to monitor groundwater dynamics.

Significance of the move

  • This would make groundwater visible much the same way as air quality and meteorological variables
  • The information will be publicly accessible.
  • It will potentially provide groundwater forecasts to farmers that would be useful for sowing and updated advisories that can influence groundwater extraction policies by states

Why monitor groundwater?

  • Nitrate contamination – a result of the use of nitrogenous fertilizers – has been observed in some regions
  • Groundwater contamination, mostly “geogenic” (natural), hasn’t significantly changed over the years.
  • But nitrate contamination and fluoride and arsenic contamination have been observed in some regions and states.

Present system of monitoring

  • The Central Groundwater Board currently relies on a network of about 26 thousand groundwater observation wells.
  • It requires technicians to manually measure the state of groundwater in a region.

Groundwater Extraction in India

  • The total annual groundwater recharge in the country has been assessed as 437.60 billion cubic meters (BCM)
  • The annual extractable groundwater resource has been assessed as 398.08 bcm, with actual extraction of 239.16 bcm
  • The average stage of groundwater extraction for the country as a whole works out to be about 60.08%, and anything above 70% is considered “critical”

Also read

Groundwater Extraction Lowest in 18 years

 

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

First Census of Waterbodies in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Waterbodies definition, Key stats

Mains level: Water conservation efforts

water

The Ministry of Jal Shakti has recently released the report of the first census of waterbodies in India.

Waterbodies Census

  • It is the first ever process of conducting a comprehensive survey of all the waterbodies in a particular region or country.
  • The census aims to identify and classify different types of waterbodies like ponds, tanks, lakes, and reservoirs, among others.
  • The information can help in the development of strategies for their conservation and management.

Major highlight: Definition of Waterbodies

  • The census defines a waterbody as a unit bounded on all sides that is used for storing water for various purposes.
  • These units can be either natural or man-made and may or may not have masonry work.
  • Waterbodies are used for a variety of purposes, such as irrigation, industrial use, pisciculture, domestic and drinking water supply, recreation, religious purposes, and groundwater recharge.
  • The report states that any structure that accumulates water from ice-melt, streams, springs, rain or drainage of water from residential or other areas or stores water by diversion from a stream, nala or river is also considered a waterbody.

Key facts: Distribution of Waterbodies

According to the report, India has 24.24 lakh water bodies like ponds, tanks, and lakes, with West Bengal having the highest number (7.47 lakh) and Sikkim having the least number (134).

Waterbody Type Percentage of Total Waterbodies Number of Waterbodies
Ponds 59.5% 14,42,993
Tanks 15.7% 3,81,805
Reservoirs 12.1% 2,92,280
Water Conservation Schemes/Percolation Tanks/Check Dams 9.3% 2,26,217
Lakes 0.9% 22,361
Others 2.5% 58,884

 

State-Wise Distribution of Waterbodies

  • The report highlights that West Bengal has the highest number of ponds and reservoirs, while Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of tanks.
  • Tamil Nadu has the highest number of lakes, and Maharashtra is the leading state with water conservation schemes.
  • South 24 Parganas district in West Bengal has been ranked as the top district having the highest (3.55 lakh) number of waterbodies across the country.

Issues highlighted: Encroachment of Waterbodies

  • Total 1.6% of waterbodies reported to be encroached
  • 4% of encroached waterbodies in rural areas, 4.6% in urban areas
  • 8% of encroached waterbodies have less than 25% area under encroachment
  • 8% of waterbodies have more than 75% area under encroachment

Conclusion

  • The census provides a comprehensive overview of the distribution of waterbodies in India, highlighting the states and districts with the highest number of waterbodies.
  • The data on encroachment of waterbodies can help in identifying areas where conservation efforts are needed to protect these valuable resources.

 

 

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

International Water Action Conference and Voluntary Commitments

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UN Water Action Conference

Mains level: Water agenda, voluntary commitments and challenges

Conference

Central Idea

  • The International Water Action Conference held by the United Nations in March 2023, which resulted in over 670 commitments from various governments, multilateral institutions, businesses, and non-governmental organizations to address water security issues. There are implications of these commitments which needs to be examined the challenges associated with achieving universal, safe, affordable, and equitable access to water in line with SDG 6.

The Water Action Conference and its objective

  • First UN conference on freshwater: The Water Action Conference held in March 2023 was the first UN conference on freshwater in almost 50 years.
  • Aims to advance water agenda and achieve SDG 6: The conference aimed to review the Water Action Decade 2018-2028, which aims to advance the water agenda and achieve SDG 6, sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Themes of the conference

The Conference has five themes that support the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework:

  1. Water for Health: Access to ‘WASH’ (Global Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene) including the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation
  2. Water for Sustainable Development: Valuing water, the water-energy-food nexus and sustainable economic and urban development.
  3. Water for Climate, Resilience and Environment: Source to sea, biodiversity, climate, resilience and disaster risk reduction.
  4. Water for Cooperation: Transboundary and international water cooperation, cross sectoral cooperation and water across the 2030 Agenda.
  5. Water Action Decade: Accelerating the implementation of the objectives of the Decade for Action, including through the UN Secretary-General’s Action Plan.

Conference

What is Water Action Decade (2018–2028)?

  • In December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution International Decade (2018–2028) for Action Water for Sustainable Development to help put a greater focus on water during ten years.
  • It aims to advance the water agenda by energizing existing programs and projects and inspiring water action to achieve the 2030 Agenda, in particular, Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), which envisions the sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
  • The initiative focuses on promoting action-oriented partnerships to improve water resources management, water-use efficiency, and access to safe drinking water and sanitation services. The Decade aims to create a platform for sharing knowledge and experiences, promoting innovation, and building capacity for sustainable water management.

The International Water Action Agenda and commitments made

  • International Water Action Agenda: The conference resulted in the international Water Action Agenda, to which over 670 commitments were made by governments, multilateral institutions, businesses, and non-governmental organizations to address water security issues.
  • Commitments are voluntary: Nearly 164 governments and 75 multilateral organizations made commitments, but these commitments are voluntary and legally non-binding.

Implications of commitments made

  • The commitments embodied in the Water Action Agenda must be scrutinized to see whether they will yield universal, safe, affordable, and equitable access to water that is consistent with SDG 6.
  • Meeting this target by 2030 will require capital expenditures of $114 billion per year.
  • The recurring operations and maintenance for basic water and sanitation service (WASH) costs are estimated to rise from about $4 billion to over $30 billion per year by 2030.

Conference

Challenges associated with achieving SDG 6

  • Funding: Funding from regional, national, and international sources prioritizes new water infrastructure rather than water maintenance services, resulting in decreased service for water customers.
  • Investment: The investment required would require valuing water, which in turn requires robust water measurement and accounting.
  • Limitations: There are serious limitations in our knowledge about the volume, flux and quality of water in lakes, rivers, soils and aquifers. There are huge gaps in water usage data.

India’s commitments and challenges

  • India made two significant commitments at the conference:
  1. An investment of $240 billion in the water sector and
  2. Efforts to restore groundwater levels.
  • However, groundwater extraction in India increased from 58% to 63% between 2004-17, further exacerbated by climate change resulting in intermittent rainfall, which further undermines the recharge potential.
  • The revised Groundwater Bill 2017 vests State groundwater boards with creating laws, managing water allocation and other relevant issues.
  • The State boards are understaffed, and lack in expertise and prioritizing socio-political conflicts over groundwater resources.

Facts for prelims

Initiative Objective
Jal Shakti Abhiyan, 2019 Ensure water conservation and management in 255 water-stressed districts across India
Atal Bhujal Yojana, 2019 Improve groundwater management and promote community-based groundwater management
Namami Gange Project, 2014 Clean and rejuvenate the Ganges river and address pollution through treatment of sewage and industrial effluents
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, 2014 Improve sanitation and cleanliness across the country and promote hygiene practices
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana. 2015 Improve irrigation efficiency and increase water use efficiency in agriculture
National Water Mission, 2011 Ensure sustainable water management and water security in the country and improve water use efficiency
National Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme (NAQUIM), 2012 Map the aquifers across the country and develop a groundwater management plan
Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP), 2009 Enhance soil and water conservation practices in rainfed areas and promote the development of rainwater harvesting structures to enhance groundwater recharge

Conference

Conclusion

  • The international Water Action Conference resulted in over 670 commitments to address water security issues. These commitments are voluntary and legally non-binding, but they are expected to inspire collective political will to address the many water challenges.

Mains Question

Q. What is Water action decade? Discuss the challenges associated with achieving universal, safe, affordable, and equitable access to water in line with SDG 6.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

UN Water Conference and Key Takeaways

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UN Water Conference

Mains level: Water conservation efforts

water

Central idea

  • The UN 2023 Water Conference was held in New York from March 22-24.
  • It was the first such meeting on water in 46 years.
  • The conference aimed to identify game-changing ideas and make recommendations to policymakers on how to speed up and scale up change in the water sector.

What is the UN Water Conference?

  • The UN Water Conference is an international conference that aims to better align activities by governments, companies, NGOs, and funders around a few grand challenges in the water sector.
  • It serves as a platform for countries to learn from the experiences of others, transfer technology, and invest.
  • The last UN Water Conference was held in 1977.
  • It resulted in the first global ‘Action Plan’ recognizing that all people have the right to access safe drinking water and sanitation.
  • This led to several decades of global funding and concerted effort to provide drinking water and sanitation for all.

Themes of the conference

The Conference has five themes that support the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework:

  1. Water for Health: Access to ‘WASH’ (Global Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene) including the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation
  2. Water for Sustainable Development: Valuing water, the water-energy-food nexus and sustainable economic and urban development.
  3. Water for Climate, Resilience and Environment: Source to sea, biodiversity, climate, resilience and disaster risk reduction.
  4. Water for Cooperation: Transboundary and international water cooperation, cross sectoral cooperation and water across the 2030 Agenda.
  5. Water Action Decade: Accelerating the implementation of the objectives of the Decade for Action, including through the UN Secretary-General’s Action Plan.

Purpose of the conference

  • International conferences on water aim to better align activities by governments, companies, NGOs, and funders around a few grand challenges.
  • They help countries learn from the experiences of others, transfer technology, and invest.
  • Water problems tend to be local and need local solutions, so there is a challenge of mobilizing globally to solve local water problems.

Water challenges discussed

water

  • While access to safe drinking water and sanitation is challenging, extending services to underserved populations is relatively uncontroversial.
  • However, improving access to water and sanitation no longer translates directly to sustained access.
  • The water problem is no longer about access to water and sanitation; the remaining SDG 6 targets address the need to sustain agriculture, industry, and natural ecosystems.

Outcomes of the 2023 Conference

  • The conference’s proceedings resulted in a lot of talk, fragmented discussions, and no binding commitments.
  • There were 713 diverse voluntary commitments by philanthropic donors, governments, corporations, and NGOs, with 120 relevant to India.
  • Commitments included a $50-billion commitment from the Indian government to improve rural drinking water services under its Jal Jeevan Mission.

Examples of Commitments

  • Technology: Specific innovations in wastewater treatment or solar treatment of water in remote areas, and a number of proposals for incubation platforms.
  • Data and Models: Cost-effective approaches to data-generation included sensors and satellite data. Other efforts offered data analysis tools.
  • Knowledge Sharing: One useful tool was the W12+ Blueprint, a UNESCO platform that hosts city profiles and case studies of programs, technologies, policies that addresses common water security challenges.
  • Capacity Building: Efforts offered to help marginalized communities and women understand how to exercise their rights.
  • Civil Society: Platforms for collective action by civil society groups lobbying for changes in regulations.
  • Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance: The conference concluded that effective water governance hinges on these broad areas, and weaving them into the Water Action Agenda is a step.

 

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

India’s Water Vision: Roadmap for a Sustainable Future

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India's Water Vision and various schemes

Mains level: India's Water Vision, Challenges and solutions for Sustainable water use

Central Idea

  • India’s Water Vision addresses key water-related challenges, highlights ongoing interventions, and offers recommendations for ensuring sustainability and serving as a model for other countries to achieve clean water and sanitation for all.

India’s Water vision

  • India’s Water Vision is a government initiative aimed at providing clean and safe water to all citizens of India.
  • It was launched in 2019 and aims to provide water security, improve water use efficiency, and increase the use of recycled water.
  • The initiative also focuses on conservation of water resources and promoting sustainable water practices.
  • It is a plan announced as part of the Prime Minister’s Vision India @ 2047 initiative.

The Importance of India’s Water Vision

  • Climate change: India’s Water Vision comes at a critical time when the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report confirms the adverse impacts of human-caused climate change on water availability and security, and the UN 2023 Water Conference takes place after a 46-year gap.
  • G20 presidency: India’s G20 presidency can set an example for other countries to prioritize water action, leading to a global water action agenda with clear commitments and pledges to accelerate progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 by 2030.

Challenges and Interventions in India’s Water Sector

  • Jal Jeevan Mission: The Jal Jeevan Mission has increased tap connections in rural households, but there is a need to ensure reliability and quality of water supply through investments in source sustainability and water quality surveillance for improved social, economic, and public health outcomes.
  • Groundwater regulation: Strengthen groundwater governance by making substantial progress in decision-making through groundwater atlas, aquifer mapping, and extensive monitoring. Encourage states like Rajasthan and Punjab to pass bills and fully implement the central government’s model law for regulating groundwater.
  • Namami Gange Programme and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation: Focus on pollution abatement and river rejuvenation by improving wastewater management through initiatives like Namami Gange Programme and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation. Realize the potential of treated wastewater for irrigation by strengthening treatment infrastructure and pricing freshwater adequately.
  • Per Drop More Crop initiative: Improve water use efficiency in irrigated agriculture by promoting micro-irrigation systems such as drip and sprinkler technologies through the Per Drop More Crop initiative. Scale up water-saving technologies through targeted subsidies for small and marginal farmers.
  • Atal Bhujal Mission: Engage local communities in water management through programs like Atal Bhujal Mission, which aims to improve groundwater management in water-stressed blocks by involving communities in the preparation of water security plans, ensuring climate resilience.

Recommendations for Ensuring Sustainability of Water Actions

  • Ensure sustainable source: Ensure access to safely managed domestic water services by focusing on source sustainability and water quality surveillance, leading to positive social, economic, and public health outcomes.
  • Prompt groundwater regulation: Encourage all states to fully implement groundwater regulation laws and take prompt action to address groundwater overexploitation, especially in major groundwater-consuming states.
  • Improve wastewater treatment: Strengthen wastewater treatment infrastructure to treat a larger proportion of municipal sewage and ensure that freshwater is adequately priced to promote safe reuse of treated water for irrigation.
  • Efficient water use practice: Scale up water-saving technologies in agriculture by providing targeted subsidies to small and marginal farmers, facilitating the adoption of water-efficient practices and potentially saving 20% of currently used irrigation water by 2050.
  • Improving community engagement: Support ongoing community engagement in water management by ensuring the development and implementation of annual water security plans, taking corrective action when necessary to ensure water security in vulnerable regions.

Facts for prelims

Initiative Objective
Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) Ensure piped water supply to every household in the country by 2024
Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY) Improve groundwater management in the country
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)              Provide irrigation facilities to all agricultural lands in the country
National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC) Collect, collate, and disseminate water-related data from various sources
National Hydrology Project (NHP) Improve the country’s hydrological data management system
Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) Create awareness about water conservation and promote the judicious use of water

Conclusion

  • India’s Water Vision offers a comprehensive roadmap for addressing water-related challenges and achieving clean water and sanitation for all. By sharing its successes, discussing the sustainability of its initiatives, and offering support to other countries, India can leverage its G20 presidency to accelerate progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 6 and serve as a model for global water action.

 


 

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Low Temperature Thermal Desalination (LTTD) Technology

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: LTTD

Mains level: Desalination of seawater

desalin-lttd

The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) is making efforts to make its ongoing water provision project in Lakshadweep eco-friendly by eliminating emissions in its Low Temperature Thermal Desalination technology.

What is LTTD Technology?

  • LTTD Technology is a desalination process that uses low-grade thermal energy, typically below 70°C, to evaporate seawater and produce fresh water.
  • The technology is designed to be efficient and cost-effective, and it has been successfully used in various locations worldwide to provide potable water.

How does LTTD Technology work?

  • LTTD Technology works by using a low-grade thermal source, such as warm seawater, to heat up a chamber containing seawater.
  • As the seawater is heated, it evaporates and produces fresh water vapor.
  • The vapor is then condensed and collected, leaving behind concentrated seawater, which can be discharged back into the ocean.
  • The fresh water produced can be used for various purposes, such as drinking water, irrigation, or industrial applications.

Benefits of this technology

  • One of the main benefits of LTTD Technology is that it uses low-grade thermal energy, which is readily available in many locations, especially in coastal areas.
  • This makes it a cost-effective and sustainable way of producing fresh water.
  • Additionally, LTTD Technology is modular and can be easily scaled up or down, depending on the water demand.
  • It also has a relatively low environmental impact compared to other desalination technologies.

Challenges of LTTD Technology

  • One of the main challenges of LTTD Technology is that it requires a constant source of low-grade thermal energy, which can be affected by weather conditions and seasonal changes.
  • Additionally, the technology is relatively new and may require further research and development to optimize its efficiency and performance.

How is NIOT working to make LTTD Technology emission-free?

  • NIOT is working on making LTTD Technology emission-free by using renewable energy sources, such as solar energy, to power the desalination process.
  • The goal is to reduce the carbon footprint of the technology and make it more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Try this MCQ:

Q. The LTTD technology involves the use of which of the following processes to produce potable water?

A) Reverse osmosis B) Distillation C) Filtration D) Chlorination

Post your answer here.
5
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 


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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

In news: Anmol Jeevan Abhiyan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Anmol Jeevan Mission, Tanka

Mains level: Not Much

A recent initiative called the ‘Anmol Jeevan Abhiyan’ (Precious Life Campaign) in Barmer, Rajasthan has motivated village panchayats and homeowners to add hand pumps and locked covers to tankas for improved structure.

What are Tankas?

anmol

  • The tankas with a huge water storage capacity are traditionally built adjacent to the residential units in western Rajasthan.
  • It is used for collecting rainwater and using it throughout the year for drinking and other household needs.
  • They were constructed in households under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

 

Anmol Jeevan Abhiyan

  • The ‘Anmol Jeevan Abhiyan’ (Precious Life Campaign) has encouraged village panchayats and owners of houses to make the structural addition of hand pumps and locked covers on tankas.
  • The light-weight hand pumps made of fibre serve the dual purpose of preventing the accidents and suicides as well as drawing of water from the tank.
  • The campaign has been started jointly by the district administration, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Action Aid.
  • Among the 171 suicide cases reported last year, as many as 64 were those of women and a majority was those who had jumped into the water tanks.

Benefits offered

  • Though the campaign has made an impact during the last three to four months, it cannot be measured in quantitative terms at present because of its continuity, even as the reports of suicides have gradually reduced.
  • The permanent closure of tankas with the metal cover having lock also ensured that no cattleheads or other animals fall into them tank.

 

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Uranium Contamination in Groundwater

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Uranium contamination, causes and effects

Mains level: Groundwater pollution

Groundwater

Context

  • The most recent report on the state of groundwater released by the Central Groundwater Board. It revealed that the twelve Indian states have uranium levels beyond permissible limits in their groundwater. Uranium concentrations in the country’s shallow groundwater range from 0-532 parts per billion (ppb), according to the document titled Groundwater yearbook 2021-2022 released in January, 2023.

What is a Safe level of uranium in groundwater?

  • The safe levels for uranium in groundwater in India are 30 ppb as prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • The safe level of 30 µg/L is established to minimize the risk of these health effects. However, it should be noted that long-term exposure to even low levels of uranium can also cause health problems.

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Findings of the report

  • No presence in Kerala: Uranium concentration is found to be within safe limits in 13 states and none of the samples collected from Kerala had its presence.
  • Punjab worse affected: Punjab is the worst-affected state in terms of the percentage of wells found to have uranium concentration of more than 30 ppb, the safe level. Nearly 29 per cent, or about three in every 10 wells tested in Punjab, is contaminated with uranium. Uranium presence in Punjab’s groundwater is found to be 17.7 times more than the safe limit prescribed by WHO. The concentration of the element was also highest in the state, with 532 ppb.
  • Haryana stands second: Haryana is the second state in terms of uranium prevalence in groundwater. The state also recorded the second-highest concentration of uranium in the country, with 518 ppb or 17.3 times the WHO-prescribed safe limit.
  • Uttar Pradesh third largest in terms of uranium concentration: The state was the third-highest in terms of uranium concentration, with 532 ppb or 7.9 times more than the safe limit. For example, 9.2 per cent of the samples from Uttar Pradesh had a high concentration of uranium.
  • Localised pockets of other states: Uranium concentration was found to be higher than the threshold level in localised pockets of seven other states Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Odisha, Telangana and Bihar.

Groundwater

Uranium: A toxic element

  • Uranium is a nephrotoxic element, which means people dependent on groundwater containing the element are at a higher risk of impaired renal function and kidney disease.
  • Exposure to uranium may also lead to other adverse health impacts, including bone toxicity and problems such as neurological effects, reproductive and developmental effects, and immune system effects.
  • Ingestion of large amounts of uranium can lead to immediate health effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Inhalation of uranium dust or fumes can cause lung irritation and damage, including lung cancer.

Groundwater

Causes of contamination

  • Geogenic plus anthropogenic: Geogenic processes are responsible for uranium contamination, but the overexploitation of groundwater can also be a reason for it.
  • High concentration largely due to natural uranium content: High levels of uranium are largely due to natural uranium content in aquifer rocks, oxidation state and groundwater chemistry, noted researchers from Duke University.
  • High bicarbonate levels: Extreme bicarbonate levels were also found at the sites with high uranium levels. Bicarbonates help to bring the uranium out of the source rocks and is a reason for the high occurrence of the element, said Rachel Coyte, the lead author of the study.
  • Human-made causes too be behind this: Groundwater-table decline, nitrate pollution and over-exploitation of groundwater from irrigation further exacerbate uranium mobilisation, said the study.
  • Overexploitation of groundwater: Overexploitation of groundwater resources is likely to be one of the reasons for uranium and other geogenic contaminants, including arsenic and fluoride, according to the BARC study published in 2021.

Groundwater

Reverse osmosis could be a probable solution

  • Reverse osmosis (RO) is a way to purify water.
  • It uses a special membrane to filter out impurities, such as minerals and other dissolved contaminants, including toxic elements such as uranium.
  • The water is forced through the membrane by applying pressure, leaving behind the impurities and creating clean, purified water on the other side.
  • The impurities are removed by the membrane and the clean water is collected.

Did you know?

  • BARC has conducted studies on the removal of uranium from drinking water using a hybrid membrane technique.
  • Field studies are also being carried out in a few districts of Punjab based on RO technique at a village level to provide potable water, stated the BARC researchers.

Conclusion

  • Uranium contamination has been attributed to geogenic processes coupled with the overexploitation of groundwater in the country. This assessment of uranium contamination in groundwater across India highlights the need for an urgent response. Reverse osmosis (RO) is one of the latest membrane-based technologies used in water purification systems to remove uranium could be a solution.

Mains question

Q. Almost half of India’s states have uranium levels in their groundwater above permissible limits. Highlight the causes and effects of uranium contamination in groundwater.

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Jal Jeevan Mission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jal Jeevan Mission

Mains level: NA

Around 62% of rural households in India had fully functional tap water connections under the Jal Jeevan Mission.

Jal Jeevan Mission

  • Jal Jeevan Mission, a central government initiative under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, aims to ensure access to piped water for every household in India.
  • The mission’s goal is to provide all households in rural India with safe and adequate water through individual household tap connections by 2024.
  • The Har Ghar Nal Se Jal program was announced by FM in the Budget 2019-20 speech.
  • This programme forms a crucial part of the Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • It is a central sector scheme with the Centre funding 50% of the cost with States and UTs, except for UT without a legislature, and 90% for NE and Himalayan states.

Note: A fully functional tap water connection is defined as a household getting at least 55 litres of per capita per day of potable water all through the year.

Components of the mission

The following key components are supported under JJM-

  • Development of in-village piped water supply infrastructure to provide tap water connection to every rural household
  • Bulk water transfer, treatment plants and distribution network to cater to every rural household
  • Technological interventions for removal of contaminants where water quality is an issue
  • Retrofitting of completed and ongoing schemes
  • Greywater management

Progress of the scheme

  • Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, and Puducherry reported more than 80% of households with fully functional connections.
  • However, less than half the households in Rajasthan, Kerala, Manipur, Tripura, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Sikkim had such connection.
  • Close to three-fourths of households received water all seven days a week and 8% just once a week.
  • On average, households got water for three hours every day, and 80% reported that their daily requirements of water were being met by the tap connections.

 

 

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Jaldoot App to capture data on Groundwater Levels

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jaldoot App

Mains level: Not Much

With the rapidly declining water table threatening to push many regions into drought, the Union government on has launched a mobile application — Jaldoot.

Jaldoot App

  • Jaldoot is jointly developed by the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Ministries to monitor the groundwater levels across the country.
  • The App will enable Gram Rojgar Sahyak to measure the water level of well twice a year pre-monsoon and post-monsoon.
  • Jaldoots, that is, officers assigned to measure the water levels, should also upload the geo-tagged photographs through the app on every occasion of measurement.
  • This Mobile app will work in both online and offline mode.
  • So water level can be captured even without internet connectivity and captured date will be stored in mobile and when mobile comes in the connectivity area, data will synchronize with the central server.

Utility of the App

  • The despite promoting watershed development, afforestation, waterbody development and renovation, rainwater harvesting like initiatives, the ground water level in various parts of the country has depleted.
  • The regular data to be input by the Jaldoots would be integrated with the database of National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC), which can be utilised for analysis and display.
  • The app will facilitate in observing water tables across the country and the resulting data can be utilized for Gram Panchayat Development Plan and Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Plans.

 

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The great Indian thirst: The story of India’s water stress

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: various water reports

Mains level: water conservation

water stressContext

  • United Nations World Water Development Report of 2022 has expressed global concern over the sharp rise in freshwater withdrawal from streams, lakes, aquifers and human made reservoirs, significant water stress and also water scarcity being experienced in different parts of the world.

Who publishes the UNs world water development report?

  • The United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR) is published by UNESCO, on behalf of UN-Water and its production is coordinated by the UNESCO World Water Assessment Program (WWAP).

What is the level of water stress in India?

  • The Global Drought Risk and Water Stress map (2019): It shows that major parts of India, particularly west, central and parts of peninsular India are highly water stressed and experience water scarcity.
  • Composite Water Management Index (2018): Released by Niti Aayog indicates that more than 600 million people are facing acute water stress.
  • India is the world’s largest extractor of groundwater: Accounting for 25 per cent of the total. 70 percent of our water sources are contaminated and our major rivers are dying because of pollution.

water stressWhy is Rural to Urban transfer of water becoming an issue in India?

  • Rising urban population: According to Census 2011, the urban population in India accounted for 34% of total population. It is estimated that the urban population component in India will cross the 40% mark by 2030 and the 50% mark by 2050 according to World Urbanization Prospects, 2018.
  • Water use in the urban areas: Water use in the urban sector has increased as more and more people shift to urban areas. Per capita use of water in these centers rises, which will continue to grow with improved standards of living.
  • Shifting of water source in Urban areas: As the city grows and water management infrastructures develop, dependence shifts to surface water from groundwater. For example: In Ahmedabad, more than 80% of water supply used to be met from groundwater sources till the mid-1980s. Due to such overexploitation of groundwater the depth to groundwater level reached 67 meters in confined aquifers. The city now depends on the Narmada canal for the bulk of its water supply.
  • Dependence of urban areas on rural areas for water source and rural-urban disputes over water: Cities largely depend on rural areas for raw water supply, which has the potential to ignite the rural-urban dispute. For example: Nagpur and Chennai face the problem of rural-urban water disputes.

 

water stressReasons for disputes

  • Diversion of resource: Water is transported to urban areas at the expense of rural areas. Due to the high population in urban areas the water requirement for daily use is very high.
  • High demand of water for industrial purposes: In urban areas the water is heavily used in industries creating water stress.
  • High Agriculture dependence: In the rural areas water is used mainly for irrigation purposes and due to heavy dependence on agriculture the water is very essential in rural areas.
  • Water pollution: In cities, most of this water is in the form of grey water with little recovery or reuse, eventually contributing to water pollution.
  • Bad governance: Politicization of water for vote bank and skewed distribution of water particular regions For example: Andhra and Telangana.

water stress Climate change exacerbate the rural-urban disputes 

  • Affecting rainfall pattern: Climate change affects the amount of rainfall in the region which is the prime source of both surface water and groundwater.
  • Increase rate of evaporation over surface water: because of high temperature the surface waters of lakes, rivers, canals etc. face high evaporation water loss.
  • Melting of glaciers: glaciers are the sources for perennial rivers of India. Due to global warming, glaciers are melting and hence affecting the perennial nature of rivers.
  • Frequent droughts: It affects the groundwater recharge process and drying of surface waters which creates shortage of water. It exacerbate the rural-urban conflict.

.

  

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Dams in news: Vishnugadh Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vishnugadh Project

Mains level: Not Much

An independent panel of the World Bank is considering a plea by residents of some village to investigate environmental damage from the under-construction Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydro Electric Project (VPHEP).

Vishnugadh Project

  • The 444-MW VPHEP is being built by the Tehri Hydropower Development Corporation (THDC), a partially State-owned enterprise.
  • It is being constructed on Dhauliganga River in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand.
  • The project is primarily funded by the World Bank and was sanctioned in 2011. It is proposed to be completed in June 2023.
  • About 40% of the funds for the $792 million project (₹64,000 crore approx.) has already been disbursed.

Why in news now?

  • Residents in their complaint have said muck dumping from the dam threatens the local Lakshmi Narayan Temple, which is deemed to be of historical and cultural importance.
  • They also complained about the limited availability of water, saying that 70 of the 92 households received water only for two hours daily.
  • Before the project construction, they had ready access to water.

 

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Arth Ganga Model: New govt model for the River’s Sustainable Development

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Arth Ganga Model

Mains level: Not Much

The Director General of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, spoke about the Arth Ganga Model during his virtual keynote address to the Stockholm World Water Week 2022.

What is Arth Ganga Model?

  • PM Modi first introduced the concept during the first National Ganga Council meeting in Kanpur in 2019.
  • He urged for a shift from Namami Gange, the Union Government’s flagship project to clean the Ganga, to the model of Arth Ganga.
  • The latter focuses on the sustainable development of the Ganga and its surrounding areas, by focusing on economic activities related to the river.
  • At its core, the Arth Ganga model seeks to use economics to bridge people with the river.
  • It strives to contribute at least 3% of the GDP from the Ganga Basin itself.
  • The Arth Ganga project’s interventions are in accordance with India’s commitments towards the UN sustainable development goals.

Features

Under Arth Ganga, the government is working on six verticals.

  1. Zero Budget Natural Farming that includes chemical-free farming for 10 kms on either side of the river, generating “more income, per drop”, ‘Gobar Dhan’ for farmers,
  2. Monetization and Reuse of Sludge &Wastewater that envisages reuse of treated water for irrigation; industrial purposes and revenue generation for ULBs,
  3. Livelihood Opportunities Generation such as ‘Ghat Mein Haat’, promotion of local products, Ayurveda, medicinal plants, capacity building of volunteers like Ganga Praharis,
  4. Public Participation to ensure increased synergies between stakeholders,
  5. Cultural Heritage &Tourism that looks to introduce boat tourism through community jettis, promotion of yoga, adventure tourism etc. and Ganga Artis and
  6. Institutional Building by enhancing the local capacities for better decentralized water governance.

 

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Dam safety bill for sustainable water management

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: mullaperiyar dam

Mains level: dam safety bill ,DRIP.

dam safety billContext

  • Integrated risk assessment of dam safety required to prevent human-made disasters: Experts

Why in news?

  • The recent floods in the Mahanadi basin in Odisha have brought to the fore, the faulty management of dam safety, which were built to mitigate floods and not be the cause of them.

What is a dam?

  • A dam is a barrier that stops the flow of water and results in the creation of a reservoir. Dams are mainly built in order to produce electricity by using water. This form of electricity is known as hydroelectricity.
  • Reservoirs created by dams not only suppress floods but also provide water for activities such as irrigation, human consumption, industrial use, aquaculture, and navigability.

Key facts

India has 5,745 large dams according to the National Register of Large Dams, 2019, prepared by the Central Water Commission. Some 5,334 of them are operational and the remaining 411 are under construction.

What is the Dam Safety Act, 2021?

  • The Act comprehensively postulates for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of dams to prevent disasters.

Features

  • National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS): It will be constituted and will be chaired by the chairperson, Central Water Commission. Its’ functions will include formulating policies and regulations regarding dam safety standards and prevention of dam failures, analyzing the causes of major dam failures, and suggesting changes in dam safety practices.
  • National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA): It will be headed by an officer, not below the rank of an Additional Secretary, to be appointed by the central government. The main task of this authority includes implementing the policies formulated by the NCD, resolving issues between State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs), or between an SDSO and any dam owner in that state, specifying regulations for inspection and investigation of dams.
  • State Dam Safety Organisation (SDSO): Its functions will be to keep perpetual surveillance, inspection, monitoring the operation and maintenance of dams, keeping a database of all dams, and recommending safety measures to owners of dams.
  • Dam Safety Unit: The owners of the specified dams are required to provide a dam safety unit in each dam. This unit will inspect the dams before and after the monsoon session, and during and after any calamity or sign of distress.
  • Emergency Action Plan: Dam owners will be required to prepare an emergency action plan, and carry out risk assessment studies for each dam at specified regular intervals.
  • Certain offences: The act provides for two types of offences – obstructing a person in the discharge of his functions, and refusing to comply with directions issued under the proposed law.

dam safetyDam rehabilitation and improvement programme DRIP

  • Government of India, with financial assistance from the World Bank initiated Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) in April 2012 with an objective to improve the safety and operational performance of selected existing dams along with dam safety institutional strengthening with system wide management approach. It was a State Sector Scheme with Central component.

Do you know?

Four dams — Mullaperiyar, Parambikulam, Thunakkadavu and Peruvaripallam — located in Kerala but owned, operated and maintained by the Tamil Nadu Government.

Conclusion

  • The bill aims to help all States and Union Territories to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which will ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams. In order to iron out the differences and issues in the bill, central government should take the state governments into consideration and hold talks with all the stakeholders. This will go a long way in ensuring the safety of dams in India, which ranks third in the world in terms of number of large dams.

Mains question

Q. India, which ranks third in the world in terms of number of large dams. Ageing dams poses several challenges for India. In this context discuss the importance of dam safety bill 2021.

 

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Kali Bein and its cultural significance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kali Bein

Mains level: River water management issues

Punjab CM has been admitted to hospital, days after he had drunk a glass of water directly from the Kali Bein, a holy rivulet in Sultanpur Lodhi.

What is the Kali Bein?

  • The 165-km rivulet starts from Hoshiarpur, runs across four districts and meets the confluence of the rivers Beas and Sutlej in Kapurthala.
  • Along its banks are around 80 villages and half a dozen small and big towns.
  • Waste water from there as well as industrial waste used to flow into the rivulet via a drain, turning its waters black, hence the name Kali Bein (black rivulet).
  • Dense grass and weeds grew on the water until a cleaning project started.

Why did Punjab CM drink water from it?

  • The occasion was the 22nd anniversary of the cleaning project, which had started on July 16, 2000.
  • The project has been slow for years after having made remarkable progress in the initial years.
  • Nevertheless, when Mann drank water from it directly, it was a much cleaner Kali Bein than it was before 2000.

Cultural significance

  • The Kali Bein is of great significance to Sikh religion and history, because the first Guru, Nanak Dev, is said to have got enlightenment here.
  • When Guru Nanak Dev was staying at Sultanpur Lodhi with his sister Bebe Nanki, he would bathe in the Kali Bein.
  • He is said to have disappeared into the waters one day, before emerging on the third day.
  • The first thing he recited was the “Mool Mantra” of the Sikh religion.

How did the cleaning project start?

  • It was started by environmentalist Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal with a handful of followers, without government help.
  • They removed weeds, treated the water and spread awareness among residents.
  • Six years of hard work paid off when then President A P J Abdul Kalam visited the site in 2006 and praised them for their effort.
  • The then government in Punjab then announced that it would take up the project to stop the discharge of untreated water into the rivulet.

What is its national significance?

  • At one stage, the project had become a role model for river cleaning missions.
  • The ‘Kali Bein Model’ was cited as the blueprint for the National Mission for Clean Ganga.
  • Uma Bharti, then Union Minister for Water Resources, River Project and Ganga Rejuvenation, visited the Kali Bein in 2015, and called it a Guru Sthan for the Ganga project.

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Detecting Microplastics in Human Blood

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Microplastics

Mains level: Microplastics Contamination

A study by researchers from The Netherlands has found Microplastics in blood samples. About half of these were PET (polyethylene tertraphthalate) plastics, which is used to make food grade bottles.

What are Microplastics?

  • Microplastics are tiny bits of various types of plastic found in the environment.
  • The name is used to differentiate them from “macroplastics” such as bottles and bags made of plastic.
  • There is no universal agreement on the size of microplastics. It defines microplastic as less than 5mm in length.
  • However, for the purposes of this study, since the authors were interested in measuring the quantities of plastic that can cross the membranes and diffuse into the body via the blood stream.
  • Hence they agreed on an upper limit on the size of the particles as 0.0007 millimetre.

What were the plastics that the study looked for in the blood samples?

  • The study looked at the most commonly used plastic polymers.
  • These were polyethylene tetraphthalate (PET), polyethylene (used in making plastic carry bags), polymers of styrene (used in food packaging), poly (methyl methylacrylate) and poly propylene.
  • They found a presence of the first four types.

Significance of the study

  • Making a human health risk assessment in relation to plastic particles is not easy, perhaps not even possible, due to the lack of data on exposure of people to plastics.
  • In this sense, it is important to have studies like this one.
  • The authors of the paper also remark that validated methods to detect the tiny (trace) amounts of extremely small-sized (less than 10 micrometre) plastic particles are lacking.
  • Hence this study, which builds up a methods to check the same, is important.

Health hazard of microplastics

  • It is not yet clear if these microplastics can cross over from the blood stream to deposit in organs and cause diseases.
  • The report point out that the human placenta has shown to be permeable to tiny particles of polystyrene ( 50, 80 and 24 nanometre beads).
  • Experiments on rats where its lungs were exposed to polystryrene spheres (20 nanometre) led to translocation of the nanoparticles to the placental and foetal tissue.
  • Oral administration of microplastics in rats led to accumulation of these in the liver, kidney and gut.
  • Further studies have to be carried out to really assess the impact of plastics on humans.

 

Try this PYQ:

Q. Why is there a great concern about the ‘microbeads’ that are released into environment?

(a) They are considered harmful to marine ecosystems.

(b) They are considered to cause skin cancer in children.

(c) They are small enough to be absorbed by crop plants in irrigated fields.

(d) They are often found to be used as food adulterants.

 

Post your answers here.
2
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

 

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Water management needs a hydro-social approach

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Global Environmental Change (GEC) programme

Mains level: Paper 2- Water management

Context

The Global Water System Project, which was launched in 2003 as a joint initiative of the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) and Global Environmental Change (GEC) programme, epitomises global concern about the human-induced transformation of fresh water and its impact on the earth system and society.

Valuation of water

  • It is globally estimated that the gap between demand for and supply of fresh water may reach up to 40% by 2030 if present practices continue.
  • SDG 6: The formation of the 2030 Water Resource Group in 2008, at the instance of the World Economic Forum, and the World Bank’s promotion of the group’s activity since 2018, is in recognition of this problem and to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water availability and sanitation for all by 2030 (SDG 6).
  • The latest UN World Water Development Report, 2021, titled ‘Valuing Water’, has laid stress on the proper valuation of water by considering five interrelated perspectives: water sources; water infrastructure; water services; water as an input to production and socio-economic development, and socio-cultural values of water.

Need for hydro-social cycle approach

  • Designing a comprehensive mix of divergent views about water along with ecological and environmental issues held by stakeholder groups is necessary.
  • In this context, a hydro-social cycle approach provides an appropriate framework.
  • It repositions the natural hydrological cycle in a human-nature interactive structure and considers water and society as part of a historical and relational-dialectical process.
  • The anthropogenic factors directly influencing a freshwater system are the engineering of river channels, irrigation and other consumptive use of water, widespread land use/land cover change, change in an aquatic habitat, and point and non-point source pollution affecting water quality.

The intra- and inter-basin transfer (IBT) of water

  • IBT is a major hydrological intervention to rectify the imbalance in water availability due to naturally prevailing unequal distribution of water resources within a given territory.
  • There are several IBT initiatives across the world.
  • The National River Linking Project of India is one of those under construction.
  • Based on a multi-country case study analysis, the World Wildlife Fund/World Wide Fund for Nature (2009) has suggested a cautious approach and the necessity to adhere to sustainability principles set out by the World Commission on Dams while taking up IBT projects.

Issues with assumptions, use and management of freshwater resources in India

1] Contestation on concept of the surplus and deficit basin

  • The basic premise of IBT is to export water from the surplus basin to a deficit basin.
  • However, there is contestation on the concept of the surplus and deficit basin itself as the exercise is substantially hydrological.
  • Besides this, rainfall in many surplus basins has been reported as declining.
  • The status of the surplus basin may alter if these issues are considered.

2] Low capacity utilisation

  • There is concern about the present capacity utilisation of water resources created in the country.
  • By 2016, India created an irrigation potential for 112 million hectares, but the gross irrigated area was 93 million hectares.
  • There is a 19% gap, which is more in the case of canal irrigation.
  • In 1950-51, canal irrigation used to contribute 40% of net irrigated area, but by 2014-15, the net irrigated area under canal irrigation came down to less than 24%.
  • Groundwater irrigation now covers 62.8% of net irrigated area.
  • Low efficiency of irrigation projects: The average water use efficiency of irrigation projects in India is only 38% against 50%-60% in the case of developed countries.
  • More water consumption for crops: Even at the crop level we consume more water than the global average.
  • Rice and wheat, the two principal crops accounting for more than 75% of agricultural production use 2,850 m 3/tonnes and 1,654 m 3/tonnes of water, respectively, against the global average of 2,291m 3/tonnes and 1,334m 3/ tonnes in the same order.
  • The agriculture sector uses a little over 90% of total water use in India.
  • And in industrial plants, consumption is 2 times to 3.5 times higher per unit of production of similar plants in other countries.
  • Similarly, the domestic sector experiences a 30% to 40% loss of water due to leakage.

3] Low use of greywater

  • Grey water is hardly used in our country.
  • It is estimated that 55% to 75% of domestic water use turns into greywater depending on its nature of use, people’s habits, climatic conditions, etc.
  • At present, the average water consumption in the domestic sector in urban areas is 135 litres to 196 litres a head a day.
  • If grey water production in the rural areas is considered it will be a huge amount.
  • The discharge of untreated grey water and industrial effluents into freshwater bodies is cause for concern.
  • The situation will be further complicated if groundwater is affected.

4] Other issues

  • Apart from the inefficient use of water in all sectors, there is also a reduction in natural storage capacity and deterioration in catchment efficiency.

Way forward

  • The issues are source sustainability, renovation and maintenance of traditional water harvesting structures, grey water management infrastructure, groundwater recharge, increasing water use efficiency, and reuse of water.
  • The axiom that today’s water system is co-evolving and the challenges are mainly management and governance has been globally well accepted.
  • It is important to include less predictable variables, revise binary ways of thinking of ‘either or’, and involve non-state actors in decision-making processes.

Conclusion

A hybrid water management system is necessary, where along with professionals and policy makers the individual, a community and society have definite roles in the value chain. The challenge is not to be techno-centric but anthropogenic.

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In news: Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bhakra Nangal Dam

Mains level: River water management issues

Political parties in Punjab are up in arms over the Centre’s decision to amend the rules regarding appointments to two key positions on the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).

What is BBMB?

(a) Origin

  • The genesis of BBMB lies in the Indus Water Treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960.
  • Under this, waters of three eastern rivers— Ravi, Beas and Sutlej — were allotted to India for exclusive use while Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers were allocated to Pakistan.
  • In India, a master plan was drawn to harness the potential of these rivers for providing assured irrigation, power generation and flood control.
  • Bhakra and Beas projects form a major part of this plan and were established as a joint venture of the then undivided Punjab and Rajasthan.

(b) Establishment

  • Following the reorganization of Punjab on November 1, 1966, and the creation of the state of Haryana, the BBMB was constituted under Section 79 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.
  • The administration, maintenance and operation of Bhakra Nangal Dam project was handed over to Bhakra Management on October 1, 1967.
  • On May 15, 1976, when the Beas Projects Works were completed and handed over, the Bhakra Management Board was renamed as Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).
  • Since then, BBMB regulates supply of water and power to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh.

What is the constitution of the BBMB management?

  • The BBMB management includes a chairperson and two whole time members who are from the partner states of Punjab and Haryana.
  • They are designated as Member (Power) and Member (Irrigation) from Punjab and Haryana, respectively.
  • There is representation from each member state including Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh as nominated by the respective state governments.
  • The total strength of BBMB is about 12,000 employees and out of these 696 are Group A officers and are posted from the partner states.

What changes have been made to the BBMB rules?

  • The GoI issued a notification on February 23, 2022 to amend the BBMB Rules 1974, thereby changing the criteria for the selection of whole-time members of the Board.
  • New rules specify technical qualifications for the appointments and pave for the appointment of the members from across India and NOT ONLY from Punjab and Haryana.

What has been the objection to the new rules?

  • The opposition to the new rules has come from within the engineers’ fraternity, farmers as well as the political parties of Punjab.
  • It is being labeled as an attack on the federal structure of the country.
  • The engineers have pointed out that hardly any engineer would qualify for appointment as per the new specifications.

 

Back2Basics: Indus Waters Treaty, 1960

  •  The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank signed in Karachi in 1960.
  • According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej was given to India.
  • The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan.
  • The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects.
  • India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through the run of the river (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.

 

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Kerala plans to replace Mullaperiyar Dam

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mullaperiyar Dam

Mains level: Not Much

Kerala plans to build a new dam to replace the 126-year-old Mullaperiyar dam in the Idukki district.

Mullaperiyar Dam

  • It is a masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River in Kerala.
  • It is located on the Cardamom Hills of the Western Ghats in Thekkady, Idukki District.
  • It was constructed between 1887 and 1895 by John Pennycuick and also reached in an agreement to divert water eastwards to the Madras Presidency area.
  • It has a height of 53.6 m (176 ft) from the foundation, and a length of 365.7 m (1,200 ft).

Operational issue

  • The dam is located in Kerala but is operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu.
  • The catchment area of the Mullaperiyar Dam itself lies entirely in Kerala and thus not an inter-State river.
  • In November 2014, the water level hit 142 feet for first time in 35 years.
  • The reservoir again hit the maximum limit of 142 feet in August 2018, following incessant rains in the state of Kerala.
  • Indeed, the tendency to store water to almost the full level of reservoirs is becoming a norm among water managers across States.

The dispute: Control and safety of the dam

  • Supreme court judgment came in February 2006, has allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the level of the dam to 152 ft (46 m) after strengthening it.
  • Responding to it, the Mullaperiyar dam was declared an ‘endangered’ scheduled dam by the Kerala Government under the disputed Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006.
  • For Tamil Nadu, the Mullaperiyar dam and the diverted Periyar waters act as a lifeline for Theni, Madurai, Sivaganga, Dindigul and Ramnad districts.
  • Tamil Nadu has insisted on exercising the unfettered colonial rights to control the dam and its waters, based on the 1886 lease agreement.

Rule of Curve issue

  • A rule curve or rule level specifies the storage or empty space to be maintained in a reservoir during different times of the year.
  • It decides the fluctuating storage levels in a reservoir.
  • The gate opening schedule of a dam is based on the rule curve. It is part of the “core safety” mechanism in a dam.
  • The TN government often blames Kerala for delaying the finalization of the rule curve.

 

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Radioactive Pollution in Water

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Raidioactivity

Mains level: Water Pollution

Radioactive pollution of water is newly emerging but is of grave concern for water pollution and human health.

Quick recap: Radioactivity

  • Radioactivity is the phenomenon of spontaneous emission of particles or waves from the unstable nuclei of some elements.
  • There are three types of radioactive emissions: Alpha, Beta and Gamma.
  • Alpha particles are positively charged He atoms, beta particles are negatively charged electrons and gamma rays are neutral electromagnetic radiations.
  • Radioactive elements are naturally found in the earth’s crust.

Radioactive contamination of Water

  • Natural: Percolation of naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) from the soil sediments to the aquifer causes groundwater contamination.
  • Man-made: Anthropogenic sources of such pollution include- nuclear weapon investigation, nuclear calamities, nuclear powerhouses and dumping of radioactive waste.

Various contaminant elements

  • Uranium, thorium and actinium are three NORM series that contaminate water resources.
  • A number of radionuclides are found in surface and subsurface waters, among which 3H, 14C, 40K, 210Pb, 210Po, 222Rn, 226Ra, 228Ra, 232Th and 234,235,238U are common.
  • Strontium-90, Caesium-137, etc are also formed by nuclear reactors, along with numerous unnecessary radioisotopes wastes.
  • 40K and 7Be are the most commonly found radioactive elements in the sludge generated in sewage treatment plants.
  • Nuclear reactors produce radioisotopes (Cobalt-60, Iridium-192, etc) that hand out as sources of gamma radiation in radiotherapy and numerous industrial appliances.

Oceanic sources

  • Oceans and seas are the natural repositories of naturally occurring uranium. It is found in the form of uranyl carbonate ion.
  • A significant concentration of uranium is supposed to be found in the greater salinity of the marine water.
  • 40K (Radioactive Potassium) is also found in considerable concentration in the marine environment.

Measuring radioactive pollution

  • Radioactivity is measured in Becquerel (SI unit) or in Curie.
  • Energy absorbed per unit mass is measured by Gray, while the unit Sievert measures the quantity of radiation absorbed by human tissues.
  • A small amount of radiation is found in all types of water but the extended amount of radiation is harmful to human health.
  • Radioactivity in drinking water can be determined by a gross alpha test.

Hazards of such pollution

  • Radioactive elements have an effect on the environment and can cause a risk to human healthiness if inhaled, injected or exposed.
  • Human tissues absorb radiation through polluted water and foodstuff, which can cause serious health risks.
  • High doses of radiation can cause acute radiation syndrome or cutaneous radiation injury.
  • Exposure to radiation causes various disorders in human physiology, including cancer, leukaemia, genetic mutations, osteonecrosis, cataracts and chromosomal disruption.

 

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Froth formation in Yamuna

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Froth Formation

Mains level: Not Much

The visuals of devotees taking a dip in the froth-filled waters of the Yamuna River sent chills down the spine of the residents of Delhi.

What is Froth Formation?

  • This is a phenomenon that takes place on many lakes and streams.
  • Foam bubbles are produced when organic matter decomposes.
  • These foam-producing molecules have one end that repels water and another that attracts water and they work to reduce the surface tension on the surface of the water.
  • These foam bubbles are lighter than water, so they float on the surface as a thin film that gradually accumulates.

What causes the froth?

  • The presence of phosphates and surfactants in untreated sewage from Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is a major reason behind frothing.
  • While these two components comprise of 1 per cent, the remaining 99 percent is air and water.

What are the sources of pollution that cause foam formation?

  • Untreated sewage may contain soap-detergent particles.
  • The other sources are industrial effluents, organic matter from decomposing vegetation, and the presence of filamentous bacteria.
  • The pollution from the sugar and paper industries in Uttar Pradesh also causes pollution in the Yamuna.

What are its health hazards?

  • Short-term exposure can lead to skin irritation and allergies.
  • If ingested, these chemicals may cause gastrointestinal problems and diseases like typhoid.
  • Long-term exposure to heavy metals in industrial pollutants can cause neurological issues and hormonal imbalances.

 

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What India’s new water policy seeks to deliver

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- National Water Policy

Context

Over a period of one year, the committee set up to draft the new National Water Policy (NWP) received 124 submissions by state and central governments, academics and practitioners. The NWP is based on the striking consensus that emerged through these wide-ranging deliberations.

Major suggestion in NWP

Demand-side: Diversification of public procurement operations

  • Irrigation consumes 80-90 per cent of India’s water, most of which is used by rice, wheat and sugarcane.
  • Thus, crop diversification is the single most important step in resolving India’s water crisis.
  • The policy suggests diversifying public procurement operations to include nutri-cereals, pulses and oilseeds.
  • This would incentivise farmers to diversify their cropping patterns, resulting in huge savings of water.

2) Reduce-Recycle-Reuse

  • Reduce-Recycle-Reuse has been proposed as the basic mantra of integrated urban water supply and wastewater management, with treatment of sewage and eco-restoration of urban river stretches, as far as possible through decentralised wastewater management.
  • All non-potable use, such as flushing, fire protection, vehicle washing must mandatorily shift to treated wastewater.

3) Supply-side measure: Using technology to utilised stored water in dams

  • Within supply-side options, the NWP points to trillions of litres stored in big dams, which are still not reaching farmers.
  • NWP suggests how the irrigated areas could be greatly expanded at very low cost by deploying pressurised closed conveyance pipelines, combined with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and pressurised micro-irrigation.

4) Supply of water through “nature-based solutions”

  • The NWP places major emphasis on supply of water through “nature-based solutions” such as the rejuvenation of catchment areas, to be incentivised through compensation for ecosystem services.
  • Specially curated “blue-green infrastructure” such as rain gardens and bio-swales, restored rivers with wet meadows, wetlands constructed for bio-remediation, urban parks, permeable pavements, green roofs etc are proposed for urban areas.

5) Sustainable and equitable management of groundwater

  • Information on aquifer boundaries, water storage capacities and flows provided in a user-friendly manner to stakeholders, designated as custodians of their aquifers, would enable them to develop protocols for effective management of groundwater.

6) Rights of Rivers

  • The NWP accords river protection and revitalisation prior and primary importance.
  • Steps to restore river flows include: Re-vegetation of catchments, regulation of groundwater extraction, river-bed pumping and mining of sand and boulders.
  • The NWP outlines a process to draft a Rights of Rivers Act, including their right to flow, to meander and to meet the sea.

7) Emphasis on water quality

  • The new NWP considers water quality as the most serious un-addressed issue in India today.
  • It proposes that every water ministry, at the Centre and states, include a water quality department.
  • The policy advocates adoption of state-of-the-art, low-cost, low-energy, eco-sensitive technologies for sewage treatment.
  • Widespread use of reverse osmosis has led to huge water wastage and adverse impact on water quality.
  • The policy wants RO units to be discouraged if the total dissolved solids count in water is less than 500mg/L.
  • It suggests a task force on emerging water contaminants to better understand and tackle the threats they are likely to pose.

8) Reforming governance of water

  • The policy makes radical suggestions for reforming governance of water, which suffers from three kinds issues: That between irrigation and drinking water, surface and groundwater, as also water and wastewater.
  • Government departments, working in silos, have generally dealt with just one side of these binaries.
  • Dealing with drinking water and irrigation in silos has meant that aquifers providing assured sources of drinking water dry up because the same aquifers are used for irrigation, which consumes much more water.
  • And when water and wastewater are separated in planning, the result is a fall in water quality.

9) Creation of National Water Commission

  • The NWP also suggests the creation of a unified multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder National Water Commission (NWC), which would become an exemplar for states to follow.
  • Governments should build enduring partnerships with primary stakeholders of water, who must become an integral part of the NWC and its counterparts in the states.

Conclusion

The new National Water Policy calls for multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder approach to water management.

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Who was Hermann Bacher?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Hermann Bacher

Mains level: Watershed development in India

Hermann Bacher, popularly known as the ‘father of community-led watershed development in India’, passed away at the ripe old age of 97 years in Switzerland September 14, 2021.

Hermann Bacher

  • Born in 1924, Bacher, came to India in 1948 at the young age of 24 years.
  • He was to spend the next 60 years of his life here, most of it in Maharashtra.
  • Struck by the poverty he saw in rural Maharashtra, he dedicated his life to the upliftment of the poor, the landless and rural women.
  • Bacher was given Germany’s highest civilian award, the Federal Cross of the Order of Merit in 1994, in recognition of his outstanding efforts.
  • In 2017, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertifiucation (UNCCD) awarded WOTR the prestigious ‘Land for Life Award 2017’.
  • He is widely regarded and respected as a true ‘man of God’ for whom selfless service of the poor was worship at its most sublime. He is fondly remembered as ‘Bacher Baba’.

Notable works

  • The 1972 droughts in Maharashtra led him to re-calibrate his developmental approach.
  • This meant that in rain-dependent rural Maharashtra, a shift had to be made from ‘resource exploitation’ to sustainable resource use, or ‘resource mobilisation’, as he described it.
  • He helped thousands of landless labourers’ secure title to land under the Land Reforms Act, 1957, beginning in 1965.
  • He also organised lakhs of farmers to develop their farms and increase their agricultural productivity by helping them access irrigation, improved and hybrid seeds etc.

Pioneering water harvest

  • Since rain fell in the watersheds and landscapes villagers lived in, the only way to harvest and conserve rainwater wherever it fell was to undertake watershed development measures.
  • The idea was that “running water must be made to walk; walking water made to stop and sink underground”.
  • This meant, planting trees and grasses, conserving forests, undertaking soil and water conservation works such as digging contour trenches, raising farm bunds, etc.
  • It also meant building water harvesting structures on the streams (check dams, earthen bunds, etc) in a systematic manner across the entire landscape of the village, beginning from the top.

Establishing the IGWDP

  • Through his work, was born the idea which later became the large-scale Indo-German Watershed Development Program (IGWDP) that he conceived and launched in Maharashtra in 1989.
  • This was in collaboration with and the support of the Governments of India, Maharashtra and Germany, NABARD and the non-profit sector.
  • Its unique and ground-breaking feature was that it put the villagers in the driver’s seat — the community would plan the programme, implement it and maintain the watershed assets.
  • Funds, substantial amounts, would be given directly to them and they would have to manage and account

 

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Wastewater Treatment in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Important facts mentioned

Mains level: Wastewater treatment in India

Sewage treatment plants (STPs) in India are able to treat a little more than a third of the sewage generated per day, according to the latest report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

What is Wastewater?

Wastewater is used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/ stormwater, and any sewer inflow or sewer infiltration.

In everyday usage, wastewater is commonly a synonym for:

  • Sewage also called domestic wastewater or municipal wastewater which is wastewater that is produced by a community of people.
  • Industrial wastewater, water-borne waste generated from a variety of industrial processes, such as manufacturing operations, mineral extraction, power generation, or water and wastewater treatment.
  • Cooling water, released with potential thermal pollution after use to condense steam or reduce machinery temperatures by conduction or evaporation
  • Leachate, precipitation containing pollutants dissolved while percolating through ores, raw materials, products, or solid waste
  • Return flow, carrying suspended soil, pesticide residues, or dissolved minerals and nutrients from irrigated cropland
  • Surface runoff, the flow of water occurring on the ground surface when excess rainwater, stormwater, meltwater, or other sources, can no longer sufficiently rapidly infiltrate in the soil.
  • Urban runoff, including water used for outdoor cleaning activity and landscape irrigation in densely populated areas created by urbanization
  • Agricultural wastewater, generated from confined animal operations

Wastewater in India

  • India generated 72,368 MLD (million litres per day) whereas the installed capacity of STPs was 31,841 MLD (43.9 per cent), according to the report.

Treatment facilities available

  • Of this installed capacity, developed and operationalized capacity was 26,869 MLD (84 per cent).
  • Of the total operationalised capacity, 20,235 MLD (75 per cent) was the actual utilised capacity.
  • In other words, out of total 72,368 MLD sewage generated every day, only 20,235 MLD is treated.

Skewed distribution

  • Five states and Union Territories (UT) — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Karnataka — account for 60 per cent of the total installed treatment capacity of the country.
  • These, along with five other states and UTs — Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan — alone constitute 86 per cent of the total installed capacity.
  • Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland have not installed sewage treatment plants.
  • There are states like Bihar which do have a small installed capacity of STPs. But on the operational front, they score a zero.
  • Chandigarh ranks first in terms of total sewage generated to what is actually treated. It generates 188 MLD of sewage and has an operational capacity to treat 271 MLD.

Major issue: Reuse of sewage

  • The reuse of treated sewage is an issue which hasn’t assumed much importance in the policy planning of many state governments.
  • Treated sewage water can be reused for horticulture, irrigation, washing activities (road, vehicles and trains), fire-fighting, industrial cooling, toilet flushing and gardening.
  • The proportion of the reuse of treated sewage is maximum in Haryana (80 per cent) followed by Puducherry (55 per cent), Delhi (50 per cent), Chandigarh (35 per cent), Tamil Nadu (25 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (20 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (5 per cent).

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Universal Declaration of the Rights of Rivers

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Rights of River

Mains level: River conservation

Activists have highlighted the plight of rivers as well as the support building up for according rights to them under the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Rivers.

What constitutes the Rights of Rivers?

  • Flow: If we look at a river as an ecosystem instead of cubic metres of water, then the ambit of rights gets broadened.
  • Flora and fauna: It includes aquatic flora and fauna, the biodiversity in its catchment areas, forests, its tributaries, groundwater, the rocks and soil in its bed and banks.
  • Human settlements: The rights of rivers in a sense would mean the ecological causes and conditions making up the natural habitat. Human settlements dependent is the prime factor.
  • Economy: Such rights should not put an end to fishing or other localized, subsistence-based human needs related to the river, but rather push for a healthy relationship respecting the river as an ecosystem.

Universal Declaration of the Rights of Rivers

  • The declaration is a civil society initiative to define the basic rights to which all rivers are entitled, according to a note by non-profit, International Rivers.
  • This trend of granting rights to nature, taking place across the world, signals the beginnings of a radical shift from an extractive mindset to one where conservation safeguards are being extended to nature.
  • The right to recognize rivers as living entities rather than mere human property started in 2008.
  • That year, Ecuador became the first country to constitutionally recognize the Rights of Nature.

Present campaigns

  • In the one year since the declaration, rights have been recognised or declared for the Boulder Creek watershed in the US, the Magpie River in Canada, the Alpayacu river in Ecuador and the Paraná river and its wetlands in Argentina.
  • Several campaigns calling for rights to be accorded to rivers have also incorporated the declaration.
  • These include campaigns for the Lempa river in El Salvador, Tavignanu river in France, Ethiope river in Nigeria, the Indus river in Pakistan and the Frome river in the UK.
  • In 2017, a treaty agreement between the Whanganui Iwi (a Māori tribe) and the New Zealand government recognized the Whanganui River as a legal person.

Recognition of such rights in India

  • In 2017, the Uttarakhand HC ruled that the Indian rivers Ganga and Yamuna, the Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers, as well as other related natural elements are “legal persons” with all corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person.
  • Subsequently, in 2018, the same high court ruled that the entire animal kingdom has rights equivalent to that of a living person.

Challenges

  • Cultural practices: Activists and communities have been arguing for a need of cultural change that can bring about the ethic of care with regard to the rest of nature. Indigenous people have had such an ethic in their worldviews and ways of living.
  • Development paradigm: The most critical challenge is whether can rights be protected without changing the current development paradigm. Any paradigm shift also needs questioning of fundamental forms of injustices, including capitalism, statism, anthropocentrism, and patriarchy.
  • Cross-boundary issues: Rivers don’t necessarily follow human-made political boundaries. Indus, one of the longest that runs through China, Pakistan, and India, doesn’t flow as per political boundaries. Its contiguity demands a cross-boundary approach.
  • Cooperation deficit: There is still very limited understanding across the world on how a law on the rights of rivers can be implemented. What would be the best ways to ensure custodianship, restitution, compensation.

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Water shortage in Colorado River Basin

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Major rivers of the world

Mains level: NA

The federal government in the US has declared a water shortage for the Colorado river basin due to a historic drought.

Try this PYQ

Q. Consider the following pairs

River – Flows into

  1. Mekong — Andaman Sea
  2. Thames — Irish Sea
  3. Volga — Caspian Sea
  4. Zambezi — Indian Ocean

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?(CSP 2020)

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2 and 4 only

 

Post your answers here (you need to sign-in for that).
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Colorado River

  • The Colorado River flows from the Rocky Mountains into the southwestern US and into Mexico.
  • The river is fed by snowmelt from the Rocky and Wasatch mountains and flows a distance of over 2,250 km (river Ganga flows through a distance of roughly 2,500 km) across seven states and into Mexico.
  • The Colorado River Basin is divided into the Upper (Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and northern Arizona) and Lower Basins (parts of Nevada, Arizona, California, southwestern Utah and western New Mexico).
  • In the Lower Basin, the Hoover Dam controls floods and regulates water delivery and storage.
  • Apart from the Hoover dam, there is the Davis Dam, Parker Dam and the Imperial Dam that regulate the release of water from the Hoover Dam.

Major lakes in its basin

  • Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the US in terms of volume and was formed in the 1930s by the Hoover Dam in Southern Nevada.
  • Its main source of water is obtained from the Rocky Mountain snowmelt and runoff.
  • The other is Lake Powell, the reservoir created by the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona.

Reasons for shortage

  • Since the year 2000, this river basin has been experiencing a prolonged drought.
  • This persistent drought has led to a lowering down of the water levels in the basin’s reservoirs to meet the demand over the years.
  • But even with great water storing capacity, over the years the demand for water from the basin has increased whereas supply is restricted.

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Microplastics Pollution in Ganga

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Microplastic pollution

Mains level: Water Pollution

 

The Ganga is heavily polluted with microplastics at Varanasi, Haridwar, and Kanpur, Delhi-based non-profit Toxics Link claimed.

What are Microplastics?

  • Microplastics are plastics that are less than 5 mm in size but are a major source of marine pollution.
  • Untreated sewage from many cities along the river’s course, industrial waste, and religious offerings wrapped in non-degradable plastics pile pollutants into the river as it flows through several densely populated cities.
  • The plastic products and waste materials released or dumped in the river break down and are eventually broken down into microparticles.
  • The rivers finally transport significantly large quantities downstream into the ocean, which is the ultimate sink of all plastics being used by humans.

Microplastics in Ganga

  • They are non-degradable plastics that often entered the Ganga through industrial waste or packaging of religious offerings, its research found.
  • The density of population in the three cities also added to the problem because a large chunk of pollutants got directly discharged into the river by people living on the banks.
  • Among the three cities, the Toxics Link’s study found that sites at Varanasi showed the maximum load of microplastics in the water of the Ganga, as compared to the other two cities.
  • This might be due to cumulative downstream pollution as well as industrial and human activities.

On a global high

  • The researchers tried to compare the microplastics concentration in Ganga water with similar studies on other rivers across the globe.
  • It included the Rhine in Europe, the Patapsco, Magothy, Rhode in North America, and the Elqui, Maipo, Biobio, and Maule in South America.
  • They found the Ganga microplastics pollution was much higher.
  • This was in spite of a higher per capita consumption of plastic in the European countries, North and South America, as compared to India.

How does it impact people?

  • The Ganga is a source of water for not just drinking and bathing purposes but also for irrigation to a large extent.
  • Microplastics in river water, if ingested in humans or other organisms, can cause toxicity through various means.
  • Not only are these microplastics toxic themselves, they also have a tendency to absorb various toxins present in water, including harmful chemicals.
  • Although some of the effects of microplastics on public health are understood, a lot still needs to be done.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q. Why is there a great concern about the ‘microbeads’ that are released into the environment? (CSP 2019)

(a) They are considered harmful to marine ecosystems.

(b) They are considered to cause skin cancer in children.

(c) They are small enough to be absorbed by crop plants in irrigated fields.

(d) They are often found to be used as food adulterants.

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Rooftop rainwater harvesting for India’s water stress

Note4Students

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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Places in news: Sardar Sarovar Dam

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sardar Sarovar Dam

Mains level: NA

The Sardar Sarovar Dam is providing irrigation water in summer for the first time in history.

Sardar Sarovar Dam

  • The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam is a terminal dam built on the Narmada river at Kevadia in Gujarat’s Narmada district.
  • Four Indian states, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, receive water and electricity supply from the dam.
  • The foundation stone of the project was laid out by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on 5 April 1961.
  • The project took form in 1979 as part of a development scheme funded by the World Bank through their International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, to increase irrigation and produce hydroelectricity
  • Called the ‘lifeline of Gujarat’, it usually has no water for irrigation during summers.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Which one of the following pairs is not correctly matched?

 

Dam/Lake River

(a) Govind Sagar: Satluj

(b) Kolleru Lake: Krishna

(c) Ukai Reservoir: Tapi

(d) Wular Lake: Jhelum

A successful model of river water sharing

  • River Narmada is a classic case of Integrated River Basin Planning, Development, and Management, with water storage available in all major, medium, and minor dams on the main river and its tributaries.
  • Its water is shared amongst four party states – Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra — in the ratio stipulated by the 1979 award of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal.

How has it saved water for summers?

  • During the monsoon from July to October, the reservoir operation is well synchronized with the rain forecast in the catchment area.
  • The strategic operation of River Bed Power House (RPBH) ensures that minimum water flows downstream into the sea and maximum water is used during the dam overflow period, which is not calculated in the annual water share.
  • These measures help in maximizing the annual allocation of water share.
  • Similarly, in non-monsoon months, the measures for efficient use of the allocated share typically include minimizing the conventional and operational losses.
  • It includes: avoiding water wastage, restricting water-intensive perennial crops, adopting of Underground Pipelines (UGPL); proper maintenance and operation of canals on a rotational basis.

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‘Sea Snot’ outbreak in Turkey

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sea Snot, Marmara Sea

Mains level: Algal bloom

There has been growing environmental concern in Turkey over the accumulation of ‘sea snot’, a slimy layer of grey or green sludge in the country’s seas, which can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.

What is ‘Sea Snot’?

  • ‘Sea snot’ is marine mucilage that is formed when algae are overloaded with nutrients as a result of water pollution combined with the effects of climate change.
  • A ‘sea snot’ outbreak was first recorded in the country in 2007. Back then, it was also spotted in the Aegean Sea near Greece.
  • But the current outbreak in the Sea of Marmara is by far the biggest in the country’s history.
  • The nutrient overload occurs when algae feast on warm weather caused by global warming. Water pollution adds to the problem.
  • Environmental experts have said that the overproduction of phytoplankton caused by climate change and the uncontrolled dumping of household and industrial waste into the seas has led to the present crisis.

Where has it been found?

  • Turkey’s Sea of Marmara, which connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, has witnessed the largest outbreak of ‘sea snot’.
  • The sludge has also been spotted in the adjoining Black and Aegean seas.

How badly can the crisis affect the marine ecosystem?

  • The growth of the mucilage, which floats upon the surface of the sea like brown phlegm, is posing a severe threat to the marine ecosystem of the country.
  • Divers have said that it has caused mass deaths among the fish population, and also killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.
  • The mucilage is now covering the surface of the sea and has also spread to 80-100 feet below the surface.
  • If unchecked, this can collapse to the bottom and cover the sea floor, causing major damage to the marine ecosystem.
  • Over a period of time, it could end up poisoning all aquatic life, including fishes, crabs, oysters, mussels and sea stars.

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[pib] Kerala presents its Annual Action plan under Jal Jeevan Mission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jal Jeevan Mission

Mains level: Paper 2- Annual Action Plan submitted by Kerala for Jal Jeevan Mission

Annual Action Plan presented

  • Annual Action Plan (AAP) on planning and implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in Kerala was presented.
  • Kerala State officials outlined the roadmap of the financial year 2021-2022 to the national committee via video conferencing.
  • The State plans to achieve the target of ‘Har Ghar Jal’ by 2024.
  • The State also plans to provide potable water in all quality-affected habitations by June 2021 through piped water supply or Community Water Purification Plants (CWPP).
  • The national committee analysed and advised on the plan presented by the State.
  • The committee emphasized the preparation of Village Action Plans and the constitution of Village Water &Sanitation Committee/ Pani Samiti as a sub-committee of Gram Panchayat with a minimum 50% of women members.
  • Also, emphasis is required on Water Quality Monitoring & Surveillance (WQM&S) activities to ensure Field Test Kit testing at Gram Panchayat level, Aanganwadi centres and schools.

About Jal Jeevan Mission

  • Jal Jeevan Mission is the flagship programme of Government of India, which aims to provide household tap water connection to every rural household by 2024.
  • Since announcement of the mission in August 2019, 4.17 Core new tap connections have been provided in the rural areas of the country during this period.
  • As a result, 7.40 Crore (38.56%) rural households have tap water supply vis-à-vis 3.23 Crore (17%) in 2019.
  •  Efforts are made to dovetail all available resources by convergence of different programmes viz. MGNREGS, SBM, 15th Finance Commission Grants to PRIs, CAMPA funds, Local Area Development Funds, etc.

Allocation for the JJM

  •  In 2021-22, Rs. 50,000 Crore budgetary allocation has been made for Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • In addition to this, there is also Rs. 26,940 Crore assured fund available under the 15th Finance Commission tied grants to RLBs/ PRIs for water & sanitation, matching State share and externally aided projects.
  • Thus, in 2021-22, more than Rs. 1 lakh Crore is planned to be invested in the country on ensuring tap water supply to rural homes.
  • This huge investment will give a boost to manufacturing activities, create employment opportunities in rural areas as well boost the rural economy.

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‘Seechewal Model’ of wastewater management

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Seechewal model

Mains level: Wastewater management

A new wastewater treatment plant opened recently in a village in Punjab’s Patiala district uses a unique method devised to treat, recycle and reuse wastewater.

Seechewal Model

  • The plant in the village of Patiala aims to achieve the following objective using the ‘Seechewal Model’ of wastewater management:
  1. Recycling and reusing the treated wastewater for irrigation
  2. Preventing further contamination of groundwater
  • The model is a pipe-and-pump formula used to remove heavy solid particles, oil and other material from water.
  • It was introduced by Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal and was first used in Seechewal, Punjab.
  • The project aims to implement a combination of processes through four-well systems of wastewater treatment for reuse apart from human consumption.
  • The water wells need to be cleaned regularly; otherwise, they produce extremely poor effluents with high suspended solids, which can be detrimental to the constructed wetland and cause clogging of beds.
  • To ensure continuous and effective operation, the accumulated material must be emptied periodically.

Benefits  offered

  • The project will reduce the usage of freshwater by providing an option of treated water to farmers. It will aim at water sustainability with appropriate technologies of water recycle-reuse-recharge.”
  • The project has engaged, empowered and evolved community sustained processes for water management and strengthened community collectives.

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[pib] Nag River Pollution Abatement Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nag River, Godavari Basin and its tributaries

Mains level: River rejuvenation

The Nag River Pollution Abatement Project has been approved under the National River Conservation Plan.

Try this PYQ:

Q.On the planet earth, most of the freshwater exists as ice caps and glaciers. Out of the remaining freshwater, the largest proportion:

(a) is found in the atmosphere as moisture and clouds

(b) is found in freshwater lakes and rivers

(c) exists as groundwater

(d) exists as soil moisture

Nag River

  • The Nag River is a river flowing through the city of Nagpur in Maharashtra.
  • It is known for providing the etymology for the name Nagpur. It is a part of the Kanhan-Pench river system.
  • The Kanhan River is an important right-bank tributary of the Wainganga River draining a large area lying south of the Satpura range in central India.
  • Along its 275 km run through Maharashtra & Madhya Pradesh, it receives its largest tributary – Pench River, a major water source for the metropolis of Nagpur.
  • It joins the Wardha River, the united stream, which is known as the Pranahita River, empties into the Godavari River at Kaleshwaram, Telangana.

About the Project

  • The Nag River which flows through Nagpur city, thus giving its name to the city, is now a highly polluted water channel of sewage and industrial waste.
  • The project, approved under the National River Conservation Plan, will be implemented by the National River Conservation Directorate.
  • It will reduce the pollution level in terms of untreated sewage, flowing solid waste, and other impurities flowing into the Nag River and its tributaries.

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[pib] International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ICOLD

Mains level: NA

The International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) Symposium was inaugurated by the Minister for Jal Shakti.

What is the news?

  • ICOLD in collaboration with Central Water Commission (CWC) has organised a Symposium on “Sustainable Development of Dams and River Basins”.
  • The symposium is being organised to provide an excellent opportunity to Indian Dam Engineering Professionals and Agencies to share their experiences, ideas and latest developments.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which one of the following pairs is not correctly matched?

Dam: Lake River

(a) Govind Sagar: Satluj

(b) Kolleru Lake: Krishna

(c) Ukai Reservoir: Tapi

(d) Wular Lake: Jhelum

About ICOLD

  • The ICOLD is an international non-governmental organization dedicated to the sharing of professional information and knowledge of the design, construction, maintenance, and impact of large dams.
  • It was founded in 1928 and has its central office in Paris, France.
  • It consists of 100 member national committees which have a total membership of about 10,000 individuals.
  • The official languages of the commission are English and French.

Key initiatives: World Register of Dams

For the purpose of inclusion in the World Register of Dams, a large dam is defined as any dam above 15 metres in height OR any dam between 10 and 15 metres in height that meets at least one of the following conditions:

  • the crest length is not less than 500 metres
  • the capacity of the reservoir formed by the dam is not less than one million cubic metres
  • the maximum flood discharge dealt with by the dam is not less than 2 000 cubic metres per second
  • the dam had especially difficult foundation problems
  • the dam is of unusual design

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The problem of ageing dams in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Rate of siltation

Mains level: Paper 3- Ageing dams and challenges associated with it

Ageing dams threaten India’s water security, affect farmers’ income and increases the frequency of flooding. 

What is a dam?

  • A dam is a barrier that stops the flow of water and results in the creation of a reservoir. Dams are mainly built in order to produce electricity by using water. This form of electricity is known as hydroelectricity.
  • Reservoirs created by dams not only suppress floods but also provide water for activities such as irrigation, human consumption, industrial use, aquaculture, and navigability.

Types of Dams

There are many dams in India, and hence there is a need to know about them as there are questions based on the dams of India. The Bank Exams like IBPS or SBI contains questions from this section.

Based on the structure the types of dams are as mentioned below:

  1. Arch Dam: An arch dam is a concrete dam that is curved upstream in the plan. It is designed so that the hydrostatic pressure (force of the water against it) presses against the arch, causing the arch to straighten slightly and strengthening the structure as it pushes into its foundation or abutments. An arch dam is most suitable for narrow canyons or gorges with steep walls of stable rock to support the structure and stresses.
  2. Gravity Dam: Dams constructed from concrete or stone masonry are Gravity dams. They are designed to hold back water by using only the weight of the material and its resistance against the foundation to oppose the horizontal pressure of water pushing against it. These are designed in such a way that each section of the dam is stable and independent of other section.
  3. Arch-Gravity Dam: This dam has the characteristics of both an arch dam and a gravity dam. It is a dam that curves upstream in a narrowing curve that directs most of the water pressure against the canyon rock walls. The inward compression of the dam by the water reduces the lateral (horizontal) force acting on the dam.
  4. Barrages: A barrage is a type of low-head, diversion dam which consists of a number of large gates that can be opened or closed to control the amount of water passing through. This allows the structure to regulate and stabilize river water elevation upstream for use in irrigation and other systems.
  5. Embankment Dams: An embankment dam is a large artificial dam. It is typically created by the placement and compaction of a complex semi-plastic mound of various compositions of soil, sand, clay, or rock. It has a semi-pervious waterproof natural covering for its surface and a dense, impervious core.
  6. Rock-Fills Dams: Rock-fill dams are embankments of compacted free-draining granular earth with an impervious zone. The earth utilized often contains a high percentage of large particles, hence the term “rock-fill”.
  7. Concrete-face rock-fill dams: A concrete-face rock-fill dam (CFRD) is a rock-fill dam with concrete slabs on its upstream face. This design provides the concrete slab as an impervious wall to prevent leakage and also a structure without concern for uplift pressure.
  8. Earth-fill dams: Earth-fill dams, also called earthen dams, rolled-earth dams or simply earth dams, are constructed as a simple embankment of well-compacted earth. A homogeneous rolled-earth dam is entirely constructed of one type of material but may contain a drain layer to collect seep water.

Major Dams in India

The major dams in India have helped the inhabitants in a number of ways like:

  1. Providing adequate water for domestic, industry and irrigation purposes.
  2. Hydroelectric power production and river navigation.
  3. These major dams in India and their reservoirs provide recreation areas for fishing and boating.
  4. They have helped in the reduction of floods.

Some facts about the issue of ageing dams

  • India is ranked third in the world in terms of building large dams.
  • Of the over 5,200 large dams built so far, about 1,100 large dams have already reached 50 years of age and some are older than 120 years.
  • The number of such dams will increase to 4,400 by 2050.
  • This means that 80% of the nation’s large dams face the prospect of becoming obsolete as they will be 50 years to over 150 years old.
  • The situation with hundreds of thousands of medium and minor dams is even more precarious as their shelf life is even lower than that of large dams.

Impact on the storage capacity

  • As dams age, soil replaces the water in the reservoirs technically known as silt or sediment.
  • Therefore, the storage capacity cannot be claimed to be the same as it was in the 1900s and 1950s.
  • To make matters worse, studies show that the design of many of our reservoirs is flawed.
  • Almost every scholarly study on reservoir sedimentation shows that Indian reservoirs are designed with a poor understanding of sedimentation science.
  • The designs underestimate the rate of siltation and overestimate live storage capacity created.
  • Therefore, the storage space in Indian reservoirs is receding at a rate faster than anticipated.

Consequences

  • When soil replaces the water in reservoirs, supply gets choked.
  • The net sown water area either shrinks in size or depends on rains or groundwater, which is over-exploited.
  • Crop yield gets affected severely and disrupts the farmer’s income.
  • The farmer’s income may get reduced as water is one of the crucial factors for crop yield along with credit, crop insurance and investment.
  • It is important to note that no plan on climate change adaptation will succeed with sediment-packed dams.
  • The flawed siltation rates demonstrated by a number of scholarly studies reinforce the argument that the designed flood cushion within several reservoirs across many river basins may have already depleted substantially due to which floods have become more frequent downstream of dams. 

Consider the question “Ageing dams poses several challenges for India. Identify these challenges and suggest the measures to deal with these challenges.” 

Conclusion

The nation will eventually be unable to find sufficient water in the 21st century to feed the rising population by 2050, grow abundant crops, create sustainable cities, or ensure growth. Therefore, it is imperative for all stakeholders to come together to address this situation urgently.

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Mystery illness in Eluru

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various water borne disease

Mains level: Drinking water issues

Over 550 people in Eluru town of Andhra Pradesh’s West Godavari district have been suffering from convulsions, seizures, dizziness and nausea.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which of the following can be found as pollutants in the drinking water in some parts of India?

  1. Arsenic
  2. Sorbitol
  3. Fluoride
  4. Formaldehyde
  5. Uranium

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2, 4 and 5 only

(c) 1, 3 and 5 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Eluru illness

  • The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has found traces of lead and nickel in blood samples of 25 victims out of the 45 samples sent by the state government.
  • The primary suspicion is on water contamination by heavy metals. Scientists suspect that pesticide or insecticide has seeped into drinking water sources.
  • Experts from Hyderabad who collected water, blood, and food samples say there are indications of lead contamination but can confirm this only after detailed test reports.

Possible cause: Water contamination

  • Eluru receives water through canals from both Godavari and Krishna rivers.
  • The canals pass through agricultural fields where runoff laced with pesticides mixes with water in the canals. Many aspects of the mystery illness have baffled scientists.
  • People who only use packaged drinking water have also fallen sick.

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Desalination Plants and their Feasibility

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Desalination plants

Mains level: Drinking water scarcity in Urban India

Maharashtra state govt. has announced the setting up of a desalination plant in Mumbai, becoming the fourth state in the country to experiment with the idea.

Try this PYQ:

Q.What is the role of ultraviolet (UV) radiation in the water purification systems?

  1. It inactivates/kills the harmful microorganisms in water.
  2. It removes the entire undesirable odour from the water.
  3. It quickens the sedimentation of solid particles, removes turbidity and improves the clarity of water.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

What are Desalination Plants?

  • A desalination plant turns salt water into water that is fit to drink.
  • The most commonly used techniques used for the process is reverse osmosis where external pressure is applied to push solvents from an area of high-solute concentration to an area of low-solute concentration through a membrane.
  • The microscopic pores in the membranes allow water molecules through but leave salt and most other impurities behind, releasing clean water from the other side.
  • These plants are mostly set up in areas that have access to seawater.

How widely is this technology used in India?

  • Desalination has largely been limited to affluent countries in the Middle East and has recently started making inroads in parts of the United States and Australia.
  • In India, Tamil Nadu has been the pioneer in using this technology, setting up two desalination plants near Chennai in 2010 and then 2013, while there are two more to come.

Need for such plant

  • According to the projections, the population of Mumbai is anticipated to touch 1.72 crores by 2041 and accordingly, the projected water demand would be 6424 MLD by then.
  • Currently, BMC supplies 3850 MLD as against the requirement of 4200 MLD each day.

Is it ecologically safe?

  • The high cost of setting up and running a desalination plant is one reason why the Maharashtra government has over the last decade been hesitant in building such a plant.
  • Desalination is an expensive way of generating drinking water as it requires a high amount of energy.
  • The other problem is the disposal of the byproduct — highly concentrated brine (saltwater) — of the desalination process.
  • While in most places brine is pumped back into the sea, there have been rising complaints that it ends up severely damaging the local ecology around the plant.

Back2Basics: Osmosis and Reverse Osmosis

  • Osmosis is a phenomenon where pure water flows from a dilute solution through a semi-permeable membrane to a higher concentrated solution.
  • Semi-permeable means that the membrane will allow small molecules and ions to pass through it but acts as a barrier to larger molecules or dissolved substances.
  • As water passes through the membrane to the salt solution, the level of liquid in the saltwater compartment will rise until enough pressure, caused by the difference in levels between the two compartments, is generated to stop the osmosis.
  • This pressure, equivalent to a force that the osmosis seems to exert in trying to equalize concentrations on both sides of the membrane, is called osmotic pressure.
  • If pressure greater than the osmotic pressure is applied to the high concentration the direction of water flow through the membrane can be reversed.
  • This is called reverse osmosis. Note that this reversed flow produces pure water from the salt solution since the membrane is not permeable to salt.

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WWF Water Risk Filter

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: WWF Water Risk Filter

Mains level: Water scarcity in urban India

Nearly a third of the 100 cities in the world susceptible to ‘water risk’ — defined as losses from battling droughts to flooding — are in India, according to the WWF Water Risk Filter.

Try this question for mains:

Q.For Indian cities to break away from the vicious loop of flooding and water scarcity, nature-based solutions like restoration of urban watersheds and wetlands could offer an alternative. Examine.

What is Water Risk Filter?

  • This is an online tool, co-developed by the Worldwide Fund for Nature that helps evaluate the severity of risk places faced by graphically illustrating various factors that can contribute to water risk.
  • Launched in 2012, it is a practical online tool that helps companies and investors assess and respond to water-related risks facing their operations and investments across the globe.
  • After a major upgrade in 2018, the Water Risk Filter 5.0 enables companies and investors to Explore, Assess, Value and Respond to water risks.
  • Lately, the Water Risk Filter provides scenarios of water risks for 2030 and 2050, integrating climate and socio-economic changes in different pathways.

Highlights of the recent analysis

  • It reported 30 Indian cities that would face a ‘grave water risk’ by 2050 due to a dramatic increase in their population percentage to 51 per cent by 2050, from 17 per cent in 2020.
  • Jaipur topped the list, followed by Indore and Thane. Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi also featured on the list.
  • The global list includes cities such as Beijing, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Mecca and Rio de Janeiro. China accounts for almost half the cities.

Major recommendations

  • The future of India’s environment lies in its cities. As India rapidly urbanizes, cities will be at the forefront both for India’s growth and for sustainability.
  • For cities to break away from the current vicious loop of flooding and water scarcity, nature-based solutions like restoration of urban watersheds and wetlands could offer solutions.
  • Urban watersheds and wetlands are critical for maintaining the water balance of a city, flood cushioning, micro-climate regulation and protecting its biodiversity, the report notes.

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[pib] Sardar Sarovar Dam

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sardar Sarovar Dam

Mains level: Not Much

The PM has inaugurated dynamic lighting for the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

Try this PYQ:

What is common to the places known as Aliyar, Isapur and Kangsabati?

(a) Recently discovered uranium deposits

(b) Tropical rain forests

(c) Underground cave systems

(d) Water reservoirs

Sardar Sarovar Dam

  • It is a concrete gravity dam on the Narmada River in Kevadiya near Navagam, Gujarat.
  • Four Indian states, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, receive water and electricity supplied from the dam.
  • The foundation stone of the project was laid out by then PM Jawaharlal Nehru on 5 April 1961.
  • The project took form in 1979 as part of a development scheme funded by the World Bank to increase irrigation and produce hydroelectricity, using a loan of US$200 million.

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Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation System (KLIS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kaleshwaram Project, Lift irrigation

Mains level: Kaleshwaram Project

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) wants a relook at Kaleshwaram Project since the Telangana government subsequently changed the design of the project.

Try this question from our AWE initiative:

The Kaleshwaram Project

  • The Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation System is considered to be one of the world’s largest multi-purpose projects.
  • It is designed to provide water for irrigation and drinking purposes to about 45 lakh acres in 20 of the 31 districts in Telangana, apart from Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
  • This project is unique because Telangana will harness water at the confluence of two rivers with the Godavari by constructing a barrage at Medigadda in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district.
  • It would reverse pump the water into the main Godavari River and divert it through lifts and pumps into a huge and complex system of reservoirs, water tunnels, pipelines and canals.

Records to its glory

  • The project has set many records with the world’s longest water tunnels, aqueducts, underground surge pools, and biggest pumps.
  • By the time the water reaches Kondapochamma Sagar, the last reservoir in the system, the water would have been lifted to a height of 618 metres from its source at Medigadda.
  • The total length of the entire Kaleshwaram project is approximately 1,832 km of which 1,531 km is gravity canals and 203 km comprises water tunnels.

How important is KLIS to Telangana?

  • The project will enable farmers in Telangana to reap multiple crops with a year-round supply of water wherein earlier they were dependent on rains resulting in frequent crop failures.
  • This year, Telangana farmers have already delivered bumper rabi crops of paddy and maize due to better irrigation facilities and an extended monsoon.
  • KLIS covers several districts which used to face rainfall deficit and the groundwater is fluoride-contaminated.
  • Apart from irrigation, a main component of the project is the supply of drinking water to several towns and villages and also to twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
  • Mission Bhagiratha, the Rs 43,000-crore project to supply drinking water to every household in villages, draws a large quantity of water from the KLIS and some quantity from projects on River Krishna.
  • There is a burgeoning freshwater fishing industry in the state.

Issues raised by NGT

  • The NGT has observed that the Telangana government subsequently changed the design of the project to increase its capacity.
  • By increasing its capacity to pump 3 TMC water from 2 TMC, large tracts of forest land and other land was taken over and massive infrastructure was built causing adverse impact on the environment.
  • Extraction of more water certainly requires more storage capacity and also affects hydrology and riverine ecology of Godavari River.
  • Such issues have to be examined by the statutory authorities concerned.

B2Basics

National Green tribunal

  • It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
  • With the establishment of the NGT, India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand, and the first developing country to do so.
  • NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
  • The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.

Structure of NGT

  • The Tribunal comprises of the Chairperson, the Judicial Members and Expert Members. They shall hold office for term of five years and are not eligible for reappointment.
  • The Chairperson is appointed by the Central Government in consultation with Chief Justice of India (CJI).
  • A Selection Committee shall be formed by central government to appoint the Judicial Members and Expert Members.
  • There are to be least 10 and maximum 20 full time Judicial members and Expert Members in the tribunal.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[pib] Buldhana Pattern of water conservation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Buldana pattern

Mains level: Water coservation models

Maharashtra’s ‘Buldana Pattern’ of water conservation’ has won national recognition and the NITI Aayog is in the process of formulating National Policy on water conversation based on it.

Refer this link to read more about traditional water conservations systems in India:

https://geographyandyou.com/ten-traditional-water-conservation-methods/

What is ‘Buldhana Pattern’?

  • It is based on the synchronization of national highway construction and water conservation.
  • It was achieved for the first time in Buldana district of drought-prone Vidarbha region, by using soil from the water bodies, nallas and rivers.
  • This consequently leads to the increase in capacity of water storage across the water-bodies in Buldana district and it came to be known as ‘Buldana Pattern’.
  • Creation of State Water Grid and adopting water Conservations works under this pattern will increase the agriculture production and bring prosperity in farmer’s economic life in Vidarbha.

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Places in news: Mullaperiyar Dam

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mullaperiyar Dam

Mains level: Not Much

The Mullaperiyar dam has recently turned 125.

Try this PYQ:

Q. What is common to the places known as Aliyar, Isapur and Kangsabati?

(a) Recently discovered uranium deposits

(b) Tropical rain forests

(c) Underground cave systems

(d) Water reservoirs

Mullaperiyar Dam

  • It is a masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River in the Indian state of Kerala.
  • It is located 881 m above mean sea level, on the Cardamom Hills of the Western Ghats in Thekkady, Idukki District of Kerala.
  • It was constructed between 1887 and 1895 by John Pennycuick and also reached in an agreement to divert water eastwards to the Madras Presidency area (present-day Tamil Nadu).
  • Pennycuick is widely worshipped as a hero by farmers in the four districts of southern Tamil Nadu, where water from the dam meets the drinking water needs and irrigates thousands of hectares.

Why is the dam special?

  • The dam was constructed surmounting many odds, with malaria and thick jungles taking a toll on workers. It was a huge challenge before him to construct the dam and divert the river course.
  • Pennycuick sowed the seeds of river interlinking to bring barren and rain-starved areas under cultivation.
  • To fund dam construction, gold ornaments were donated by Chettiar families and farmers in Cumbom valley also gave their meagre savings to Pennycuick.
  • Pennycuick even sold his ancestral property in Britain and spent the amount for completing the works of the dam when the expenses exceeded the allotted funds.
  • The British government endowed him with the ‘Companion of Star of India’, a high civilian honour. He died on March 9, 1911, at Frimley in Britain.

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JAL JEEVAN MISSION (PIB)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jal Jeevan Mission , Margdarshika

Mains level: Water management

What is Jal Jeevan Mission ?

The Union Minister of Jal Shakti launched a special mission mode campaign to provide potable piped water supply in all schools and anganwadi centres across the nation within 100 days.

About Jal Jeevan Mission

  • This mission was envisaged by the Prime Minister on 29th September, 2020 while releasing the ‘Margdarshika’ for Gram Panchayats and Paani Samitis for implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).
  • Provisions have been made under Jal Jeevan Mission for ensuring safe water through tap water connection in schools, anganwadi centres, health care centres, etc.
  • National Jal Jeevan Mission has reached out to States/ UTs to ensure that during this campaign, Gram Sabhas are convened at the earliest to pass a resolution for providing safe water in all schools, anganwadi centres and other public institutions in the village in the next 100 days.
  • These facilities will be operated and maintained by the Gram Panchayat and/ or its sub-committee i.e. Village Water & Sanitation Committee or Paani Samiti.
  • Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) aims at the universal coverage of provision of tap water connection to every rural home by 2024. Under the mission, special focus is on women and children.

 

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Green-Blue Infrastructure Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Green-Blue Infrastructure

Mains level: Urban water resources management

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is holding public consultations for the preparation of the Master Plan for Delhi 2041 with special focus on water bodies and the land.

Try this question:      

Q.Urban water resources management is an uphill task for Indian cities. Discuss.

What is Green-Blue infrastructure?

  • ‘Blue’ infrastructure refers to water bodies like rivers, canals, ponds, wetlands, floodplains, and water treatment facilities; while ‘Green’ stands for trees, lawns, hedgerows, parks, fields, and forests.
  • The concept refers to urban planning where water bodies and land are interdependent, and grow with the help of each other while offering environmental and social benefits.

How does DDA plan to go ahead with it?

  • In the first stage, the DDA plans to deal with the multiplicity of agencies, which because of the special nature of the state, has plagued it for several years.
  • DDA wants the first map out the issues of jurisdiction, work being done by different agencies on drains and the areas around them.
  • Thereafter, a comprehensive policy will be drawn up, which would then act as the common direction for all agencies.

Why such a policy?

  • Delhi has around 50 big drains (blue areas) managed by different agencies, and due to their poor condition and encroachment, the land around (green areas) has also been affected.
  • DDA, along with other agencies, will integrate them and remove all sources of pollution by checking the outfall of untreated wastewater as well as the removal of existing pollutants.
  • A mix of mechanized and natural systems may be adopted, and dumping of solid wastes in any of these sites will be strictly prohibited by local bodies, through the imposition of penalties.

Major features

  • The land around these drains, carrying stormwater, will be declared as special buffer projects.
  • The network of connected green spaces would be developed in the form of green mobility circuits of pedestrian and cycling paths.
  • It will be developed along the drains to serve functional as well as leisure trips.

Challenges ahead

  • The biggest challenge is the multiplicity of agencies.
  • Secondly, cleaning of water bodies and drains has been a challenge for agencies in Delhi for years now.

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BIS’ draft standard for drinking water supply

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BIS

Mains level: Water supply standards in India

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has prepared a draft standard for the supply system of piped drinking water.

Try this question for mains:

Q.Climate change, scarcity, population growth, demographic changes and urbanization pose challenges for water supply systems in India. Analyse.

About the Draft

  • Labelled ‘Drinking water supply quality management system — requirements for piped drinking water supply service’, the draft has been prepared by the BIS’ Public Drinking Water Supply Services Sectional Committee.
  • It outlines the process of water supply, from raw water sources to household taps.
  • It has been developed keeping in view the Centre’s Jal Jeevan Mission for providing safe and adequate drinking water to all rural households by 2024 through tap connections.
  • It is expected to make the process of piped water supply more uniform, especially in rural and underdeveloped areas of the country where the system runs on various government orders and circulars.
  • At present, the standard is expected not to be made mandatory.

Highlights of the draft

  • The draft outlines the requirements for a water supplier or a water utility on how they should establish, operate, maintain and improve their piped drinking water supply service.
  • The process begins with the identification of a water source, which can either be groundwater or surface water sources such as rivers, streams or reservoirs.
  • It doesn’t mention how water utilities should treat the water, but states that the process should be planned in such a manner that after treatment it should conform to the Indian Standard (IS) 10500 developed by the BIS.
  • The IS 10500 outlines the acceptable limits of heavy metals such as arsenic, and other parameters like the pH value of water, its turbidity, the total dissolved solids in it, and the colour and odour.

What is the water supply process?

  • The supply system as outlined in the draft should begin with the identification of a raw water source.
  • Water should then be pumped into the treatment plant and treated to achieve acceptable drinking standards.
  • After the water is released from the plant, there should be reservoirs in the distribution system for storage of this water, and disinfection facilities to get rid of contamination at any stage of distribution.
  • Pumping stations or boosters, if necessary, should be provided to maintain adequate pressure throughout the distribution system.

District Metering Area (DMA) concept

  • The document also states that the concept of district metering area (DMA) should be adopted where possible.
  • DMA is a concept for controlling leakages in the water network, which is essentially divided into a number of sectors, called the DMAs, and where flow meters are installed to detect leaks.
  • The water supplier/utility may provide bulk water meters in the water distribution system to ensure water audit, however, the provisions should be made for domestic meters also.

What’s there in the draft in addition to the water supply process?

  • There are guidelines on water audit, which is a calculation of the amount of water put into distribution against the amount that is consumed.
  • The draft states that a water audit should be conducted on a quarterly basis.
  • Effort should be made by the water agency to bring down the water loss up to 15% of the total water supplied in the system.
  • The water utilities are also required to conduct surveys among consumers and obtain feedback on their service as per the draft.
  • Guidelines on internal audit, management review, documenting performance indicators for improvement, and timely action against non-conformity issues also find mention.

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In news: Srisailam Dam

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dam, river and its reservoir

Mains level: NA

The major fire accident at the Srisailam hydroelectric power station has resulted in heavy loss of lives.

Try this PYQ:

What is common to the places known as Aliyar, Isapur and Kangsabati? (CSP 2019)

(a) Recently discovered uranium deposits

(b) Tropical rain forests

(c) Underground cave systems

(d) Water reservoirs

About Srisailam Dam

  • The Srisailam Dam is constructed across the Krishna River in Kurnool district, AP near Srisailam temple town.
  • It is the 2nd largest capacity working hydroelectric station in the country.
  • The dam was constructed in a deep gorge in the Nallamala Hills in between Kurnool and Mahabubnagar districts, 300 m (980 ft) above sea level.
  • It has a reservoir of 616 square kilometres.

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Bhadbhut Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bhadbhut Project, Hilsa Fish

Mains level: Not Much

The Gujarat government recently awarded the contract for a the Bhadbhut project in Bharuch, Gujarat. It has faced protests from local fishermen for its likely impact on fishing patterns, notably those of hilsa.

Make a note of major dams in India along with the rivers, terrain, major wildlife sanctuaries and national parks incident to these rivers.

What is the Bhadbhut Project?

  • It is planned to be a 1.7-km causeway-cum-weir barrage with 90 gates, across the river Narmada, 5 km from Bhadbhut village, and 25 km from the mouth of the river, where it flows into the Gulf of Khambhat.
  • The barrage will stop most of the excess water flowing out of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from reaching the sea and thus create a “sweet water lake” of 600 mcm (million cubic metres) on the river.
  • The barrage will also have a six-lane road that will connect the left and right banks of the river and provide shorten the land distance between two large industrial estates in Surat and Bharuch.
  • The project also aims to prevent flooding in years when rainfall is higher than normal.
  • Embankments 22 km long will be made and will extend upstream towards Bharuch, from either side of the river.
  • The project is part of the larger Kalpasar Project, which entails the construction of a 30-km dam across the Gulf of Khambhat between Bharuch and Bhavnagar districts.
  • The reservoir is meant to tap the waters of the Narmada, Mahisagar and Sabarmati.

Why are fishermen upset?

  • The barrage is expected to interfere with the migration and breeding cycle of hilsa.
  • A marine fish, hilsa migrate upstream and arrives in the brackish water of the Narmada estuary near Bharuch for spawning usually during the monsoon months of July and August, and continue doing so till November.
  • Once the barrage is built, it is expected to block its natural entry.

About Hilsa Fish

IUCN status: Least Concerned

  • The Hilsa is a species of fish related to the herring, in the family Clupeidae.
  • It is a very popular and sought-after food fish in the Indian Subcontinent.
  • Though it’s a saltwater fish, it migrates to sweet waters.
  • It is the national fish of Bangladesh and state symbol in the Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura.
  • The fish contributes about 12% of the total fish production and about 1.15% of GDP in Bangladesh.

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Twin issues: Shrinking water bodies and floods in urban landscapes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Urban floods in India

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the D2E.

Try this question for mains:

Q.Shrinking water bodies and floods in urban landscapes are mutually induced by each other. Analyse.

Water in urban landscapes

  • Lakes and wetlands are an important part of the urban ecosystem.
  • They perform significant environmental, social and economic functions — from being a source of drinking water and recharging groundwater to supporting biodiversity and providing livelihoods.
  • Their role becomes even more critical in the present context when cities are facing the challenge of rapid unplanned urbanisation.
  • Their numbers are declining rapidly. For example, Bangalore had 262 lakes in the 1960s; now only 10 of them hold water.

Issues with urban water bodies

  • Natural streams and watercourses, formed over thousands of years due to the forces of flowing water in the respective watersheds, have been altered because of urbanisation.
  • As a result, the flow of water has increased in proportion to the urbanisation of watersheds.
  • Ideally, natural drains should have been widened to accommodate the higher flows of stormwater.
  • But, on the contrary, they have been a victim of various unlawful activities:

(1) Pollution

  • There has been an explosive increase in the urban population without a corresponding expansion of civic facilities such as infrastructure for the disposal of waste.
  • As more people are migrating to cities, urban civic services are becoming less adequate.
  • As a result, most urban water bodies in India are suffering because of pollution. The water bodies have been turned into landfills in several cases.
  • Guwahati’s Deepor Beel, for example, is used by the municipal corporation to dump solid waste since 2006. Even the Pallikarni marshland in Chennai is used for solid waste dumping.

(2) Encroachment

  • This is another major threat to urban water bodies. As more people have been migrating to cities, the availability of land has been getting scarce.
  • Today, even a small piece of land in urban areas has a high economic value.
  • These urban water bodies are not only acknowledged for their ecosystem services but for their real estate value as well.
  • Charkop Lake in Maharashtra, Ousteri Lake in Puducherry, Deepor beel in Guwahati are well-known examples of water bodies that were encroached.

(3) Illegal mining activities

  • Illegal mining for building material such as sand and quartzite on the catchment and bed of the lake have an extremely damaging impact on the water body.
  • For example, the Jaisamand Lake in Jodhpur, once the only source of drinking water for the city, has been suffering from illegal mining in the catchment area.
  • Unmindful sand mining from the catchment of Vembanad Lake on the outskirts of Kochi has decreased the water level in the lake.

(4) Unplanned tourism activities

  • Using water bodies to attract tourists has become a threat to several urban lakes in India.
  • Tso Morari and Pongsho lakes in Ladakh have become polluted because of unplanned and unregulated tourism.
  • Another example is that of Ashtamudi Lake in Kerala’s Kollam city, which has become polluted due to spillage of oil from motorboats.

(5) Absence of administrative framework

  • The biggest challenge is the government apathy towards water bodies.
  • This can be understood from the fact that it does not even have any data on the total number of urban water bodies in the country.
  • Further, CPCB had not identified major aquatic species, birds, plants and animals that faced threat due to pollution of rivers and lakes.

Original article:

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/urbanisation/two-sides-of-the-same-coin-shrinking-water-bodies-and-urban-floods-72702

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Ammonia Pollution in Yamuna River

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nitrogen pollution

Mains level: Preventing river pollution

For the second time in a week, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) had to reduce water production capacity by 25 per cent after high levels of ammonia were detected in the Yamuna River.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2019:

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. Agricultural soils release nitrogen oxides into the environment.
  2. Cattle release ammonia into the environment.
  3. Poultry industry releases reactive nitrogen compounds into the environment.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 2 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

What is Ammonia and what are its effects?

  • Ammonia is a colourless gas and is used as an industrial chemical in the production of fertilizers, plastics, synthetic fibres, dyes and other products.
  • Ammonia occurs naturally in the environment from the breakdown of organic waste matter, and may also find its way to ground and surface water sources through industrial effluents or through contamination by sewage.
  • If the concentration of ammonia in water is above 1 ppm it is toxic to fishes.
  • In humans, long term ingestion of water having ammonia levels of 1 ppm or above may cause damage to internal organs.

A cause of concern

  • The level of ammonia in raw Yamuna water was 1.8 parts per million (ppm).
  • The acceptable maximum limit of ammonia in drinking water, as per the Bureau of Indian Standards, is 0.5 ppm.

Where does Ammonia come from?

  • Ammonia is produced for commercial fertilizers and other industrial applications.
  • Natural sources of ammonia include the decomposition or breakdown of organic waste matter, gas exchange with the atmosphere, forest fires, animal and human waste, and nitrogen fixation processes.

How is it treated?

  • The DJB at present does not have any specific technology to treat ammonia.
  • The only solution it adapts is to reduce production at its water treatment plants.
  • In addition to this, the board mixes raw water that carries a high concentration of ammonia with a fresh supply.
  • The amount of chlorine added to disinfect raw water is also increased when high levels of ammonia are detected.

What is the long-term solution to the problem?

  • Stringent implementation of guidelines against dumping harmful waste into the river, and making sure untreated sewage does not enter the water are two things pollution control bodies are expected to do.
  • But, a more organic method agreed upon by environmentalists and experts is to maintain a sustainable minimum flow, called the ecological flow.
  • This is the minimum amount of water that should flow throughout the river at all times to sustain underwater and estuarine ecosystems and human livelihoods, and for self-regulation.
  • The lack of a minimum ecological flow also means an accumulation of other pollutants.

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Kholongchhu Hydel Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kholongchhu Hydel Project

Mains level: Not Much

India and Bhutan took a major step forward for the construction of the 600 MW Kholongchhu project.

Try this question from CSP 2019:

What is common to the places known as Aliyar, Isapur and Kangsabati?

(a) Recently discovered uranium deposits

(b) Tropical rain forests

(c) Underground cave systems

(d) Water reservoirs

Kholongchhu Hydel Project

  • The Kholongchhu project is regarded as a “milestone” in the India-Bhutan partnership, under which four hydropower projects have been built in the last 30 years totalling a capacity of 2,100 MW.
  • It is one of four additional projects agreed to in 2008, as a part of India’s commitment to helping Bhutan create a total 10,000 MW of installed capacity by 2020.
  • The project is located at the lower course of Kholongchhu just before its confluence with Drangmechu (Gongrichu) in Trashiyangtse District of Bhutan.
  • The GoI will provide, as a grant, the equity share of the Bhutanese DGPC in the JV Company.
  • Once the project is commissioned, the JV partners will run it for 30 years, called the concession period, after which the full ownership will transfer to the Bhutan government.

Whats’ so special with the project?

  • It is the first hydropower joint venture project in Bhutan’s less developed eastern region of Trashiyangtse.
  • It is the first time an India-Bhutan hydropower project will be constructed as a 50:50 joint venture and not as a government-to-government agreement.

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Ganga water improves during lockdown

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BoD, CoD

Mains level: Namami Gange

The Ganga water quality has improved remarkably during the lockdown period. This highlights the importance of synergy for absolute symbiosis between nature and man as the need of the hour.

Context

  • The novel coronavirus lockdown (COVID-19) pandemic has put millions in the throes of adversity — and yet, there is a reason to celebrate.
  • Over a month into the nationwide lockdown, air and water pollution levels have shrunk and the wildlife is free.
  • Of 36 monitoring units placed in the Ganga, water quality at 27 points was found suitable for bathing and propagation of wildlife and fisheries in the lockdown period

Status of rivers in India

  • India’s water bodies are in a poor state. The rivers are becoming dumpyard for untreated sewage and industrial waste.
  • In the name of economic growth, most rivers and streams have been turned into sewer canals and are getting difficult to be treated.
  • It is estimated that every day, almost 40 million litres of wastewater enters rivers and other water bodies; only 37 per cent is adequately treated.
  • A Centre Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report showed that critically polluted river stretches in the country have increased from 302 stretches in 2016 to 351 stretches in 2018.
  • The finding was based on Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD).

Ganga

  • According to CPCB, more than half of wastewater treatment plants in the basin do not comply with the discharge norms.
  • Since 1985, several programmes and schemes have been launched to clean the Ganga. It began with the Ganga Action Plan I, followed by Ganga Action Plan II.

  • In 2015, the biggest-ever initiative, Namami Gange was launched with a budget of over Rs 20,000.
  • Despite numerous programmes and huge funds, the Ganga still runs polluted.

The causes

  • More than 80 per cent of pollution in the Ganga is due to domestic sewage from surrounding towns and villages. The rest is contributed by industrial waste.
  • During the lockdown, domestic sewage would have increased owing to increased demand for water to maintain hand-washing hygiene. Industrial waste, however, stopped entering the Ganga.
  • Other activities such as tourism, fairs, bathing and cloth washing near the ghats were curtailed. Experts said these observations reflected that domestic sewerage was not the only cause of concern.
  • When sewage is mixed with industrial effluents, it gets difficult for the river to assimilate pollution.
  • One more reason was high number of western disturbances which brought rain and improved the flow in the river leading to dilution.

COVID-19’s gift to Ganga

  • After the nationwide lockdown was imposed, within 10 days signs of improvement in water quality started surfacing.
  • At Varanasi’s Nagwa Nala, the Dissolved Oxygen (DO) values were found increased to 6.8 milligram/litre against 3.8 mg/l on March 6, showcasing an extraordinary improvement of 79 per cent in DO values.
  • 30 per cent of the total BOD load was due to industries along the river, which amounted to 130-150 tons per day.
  • Since all major polluting industries are closed, the toxic load is off the river.

Surprisingly better

  • Ganga water at Haridwar and Rishikesh was reported fit for drinking due to 500 per cent decrease in sewage and industrial effluents.
  • A dip in the number of visitors at ghats in Haridwar also helped the river water quality.
  • The Ganga water has become fit for ‘achaman’, which means ritual sipping, after a long time.

Bringing the ambitions to reality

There is an urgent need to:

  • Reinvestigate the main source of pollution in Ganga and reorient all river cleaning policies and programmes based on lockdown findings.
  • Industries need to strictly adhere to discharge norms accompanied with strong enforcement of laws and regulations vis-a-vis strong monitoring and vigilance framework.
  • Setting up of effective interventions to clean rivers, reliable, representative and comprehensive data collected at high frequency in a disaggregated manner.
  • There is an urgent need to expand the network of monitoring stations on the Ganga, the Yamuna and tributaries of Ganga in more places.
  • Over-extraction and over-exploitation of Ganga’s waters have rendered long stretches of the river completely dry for much of the year. There is a need to maintain ecological flow to keep it clean for longer run.
  • Education and awareness needs to be carried out strategically.

Back2Basics: Biochemical Oxygen Demand

  • BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed (i.e. demanded) by aerobic biological organisms to break down organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over a specific time period.
  • The BOD value is most commonly expressed in milligrams of oxygen consumed per litre of sample during 5 days of incubation at 20 °C and is often used as a surrogate of the degree of organic pollution of water.
  • BOD is similar in function to chemical oxygen demand (COD), in that both measure the amount of organic compounds in water.
  • However, COD is less specific, since it measures everything that can be chemically oxidized, rather than just levels of biodegradable organic matter.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[pib] Law for Rain Water Harvesting

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Law for Rain Water Harvesting

Mains level: Rooftop water conservation strategy

 

 

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has issued the Model Building Bye Laws, 2016 for guidance of the States/UTs and has a chapter on ‘Rainwater Harvesting’.

Why such move?

  • These laws aim to regulate the over-exploitation and consequent depletion of ground water.
  • It would enable States/UTs to enact suitable ground water legislation for regulation of its development, which includes provision of rain water harvesting.

About the Bye Laws

  • 33 States/UTs have adopted the rainwater harvesting provisions.
  • The provisions of this chapter are applicable to all the buildings.

Various provisions

  • As per Model Building Bye Laws- 2016, provision of rainwater harvesting is applicable to all residential plots above 100 sq.m.
  • Water being a State subject, initiatives on water management including conservation and water harvesting in the Country is primarily States’ responsibility.
  • So the implementation of the rainwater harvesting policy comes within the purview of the State Government/Urban Local Body / Urban Development Authority.

Back2Basics

Groundwater governance in India

  • Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has been constituted under Section 3(3) of the ‘Environment (Protection) Act, 1986’ for the purpose of regulation and control of groundwater development and management in the Country.
  • CGWA is regulating ground water withdrawal by industries/infrastructure/ mining projects in the country for which guidelines/ criteria have been framed which includes rainwater harvesting as one of the provisions while issuing No Objection Certificate.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[pib] ‘1000 Springs’ Initiative

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ‘1000 Springs’ Initiative

Mains level: Conservation of aquifers

 

 

Union Tribal Affairs Ministry has launched “1000 Spring Initiatives” and an online portal on GIS-based Spring Atlas with hydrological and chemical properties of the Springs on the occasion.

‘1000 Springs’ Initiative

  • The ‘1000 Springs Initiative’ aims at improving access to safe and adequate water for the tribal communities living in a difficult and inaccessible part of rural areas in the country.
  • It is an integrated solution around natural springs.
  • It includes the provision of infrastructure for piped water supply for drinking; provision of water for irrigation; community-led total sanitation initiatives; and provision for water for backyard nutrition gardens, generating sustainable livelihood opportunities for the tribal people.
  • It will help in harnessing the potential of perennial springs’ water to address the natural scarcity of water in tribal areas.

Spring Atlas

  • Springs are natural sources of groundwater discharge and have been used extensively in the mountainous regions across the world, including India.
  • However, in the central and eastern Indian belt with more than 75% tribal population, it remains largely unrecognized and under-utilized.
  • An online portal on GIS-based Spring Atlas has been developed to make these data easily accessible from an online platform.
  • Presently, data of more than 170 springs have been uploaded on the Spring Atlas.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Debating water quality

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 2- Jal Jeevan Mission, ensuring quality drinking water.

Context

The competitive politics of Delhi election has brought the issue of drinking water to centre stage.

Controversy over BIS water status report

  • Politicising of the report: The controversy started with the release of the BIS report for 21 major Indian cities, in keeping with the objectives of the ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’.
    • The mission aims to provide safe piped water to all households by 2024.
    • The fact that drinking water in Delhi was ranked the most unsafe, as the samples failed in 19 out of 28 parameters, was challenged by the Government of Delhi and the Delhi Jal Board (DJB).
  • Compilation of information on the existing status: The study is scheduled to cover all districts in the country within a year. Supply of potable water obviously requires first compilation of information on the existing status
  • Water as an urgent concern: The fact that water should be treated as an urgent concern for public health and the ecosystem of the country cannot be denied.
  • Imperceptible threat: The threats to human health due to poor water quality, except when they appear as an epidemic, are largely imperceptible.
    • This generally subjects the population to subtle health problems without its knowledge or consent.

Pollution and water crisis in India

  • Pollution contributing to water crisis: India is on the throes of a severe water crisis, not only because of a gradual reduction in per capita availability of water due to a rising population but also because of rising and unchecked pollution in the country’s rivers and water bodies.
    • It is a fact which is mostly overlooked in the deliberations on water resources management.
  • Only 30% sewage treatment capacity in major cities: As per published estimates of the Central Pollution Control Board, the country has a treatment capacity of only about 30% of sewage generated in the major cities.
    • Not to talk of other urban and rural areas where the sewage finds its way to local water bodies or rivers without treatment.

Impending water stress in the country

  • NITI Aayog report: A 2018 Report of the NITI Aayog has observed that currently, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress.
    • The report also states that about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water.
  • Demand twice the supply by 2030: The crisis is only going to get worse.
    • By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people.
  • High methane in Yamuna water in Delhi: For the water coming from the Yamuna released from Haryana, the DJB has to often stop the supply for a few days if the concentration of methane goes up beyond a certain level.
    • This is because the tri-chloromethane that may be produced during the disinfection process is highly carcinogenic.
    • The effect may surface on human health not immediately but over a period of time.

The capital’s high pollutant load and need for improvement in governance

  • Contributing 50% pollutant: Delhi, which constitutes less than 1% of the total catchment of the Yamuna, contributes more than 50% of total pollutant load in the river.
    • Delhi has 7,000 km of sewer line as on date, against a requirement of 24,000 km.
    • The 17 sewage treatment plants being operated by the DJB are able to take care of not more than 30% of sewage treatment.
  • There is no sewerage system at all for over 45% of the population in unauthorised and even regularised colonies and rural areas.
  • As of now, there are 18 major drains carrying sewage, garbage and industrial effluents into the Yamuna.
  • Solid waste dumping in Yamuna: It is not only the untreated sewage water and industrial effluents, but also the solid wastes and construction material discharged by individuals, companies and municipal bodies that have caused the suffocation of the Yamuna.
    • Also, floodplains have been encroached upon by settlements.
  • Challenge of supplying quality water: Ensuring the supply of quality drinking water is not only expensive, but it also needs improvement in governance.
    • It needs technical knowledge on measurement and regulation of water quality.
    • It is not the fault of the DJB or the Delhi government alone that they have not been able to ensure a 100% supply of quality water to the citizens of Delhi.
    • Given the constraints they face, especially those concerning the water resources management and laws in the country.

Conclusion

The Jal Jeevan Mission, even if it has not been so far structured, conceptualised and funded adequately, has begun the important work of gathering information on the scale and scope of the problem and making it available in an open and transparent manner. The best outcome is that the competitive politics of the Delhi election has ensured a political debate on water quality.

 

 

 

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Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan

Mains level: Various schemes for drought management

 

 

Jalyukta Shivar, the flagship water conservation project launched by the earlier government has been officially scrapped by the present Maha government.

What is Jalyukta Shivar?

  • Launched in December 2014 after Maharashtra experienced consecutive droughts, the project aimed at rolling out measures that could potentially mitigate water scarcity in the most drought-prone villages in a systematic manner.
  • Nearly 52 per cent of the state’s geographical area is prone to drought, either naturally or due to poor rainfall.
  • This includes Marathwada and adjoining areas of Madhya Maharashtra and large parts of Vidarbha.
  • The project targeted strengthening and streamlining existing water resources like canals, bunds and ponds by arresting maximum run-off rainwater during monsoon.
  • Tasks to widen and deepen natural water streams and connect them to nearby water storage facilities like earthen or concrete check-dams were proposed.
  • In the first phase, planned during 2015 – 2019, Jalyukta Shivar envisaged making 5,000 villages drought-free, every year.
  • During its proposed tenure, the government eyed at making 25,000 drought-prone villages water-sufficient.

Was Jalyukta Shivar beneficial?

  • While the exact number of villages that were declared drought-free remains unknown, the programme attempted to bring water stress down in a majority of the most water-scarce villages in the state.
  • In January last year, then CM had announced that the scheme had transformed 16,000 drought-prone villages of Maharashtra.

What is the future of water conservation in the state?

  • Geologists and hydrologists, who worked on implementing the project, shared similar views and hailed Jalyukta Shivar.
  • This was mainly due to the interventions undertaken in the existing water reserves, planned de-silting activities, among many others.
  • However, experts agreed that the scheme was not appropriately implemented.
  • Now with Jalyukta Shivar no longer in existence, focused efforts of the past five years, in most likelihood, will go down the drain unless a similar scheme is introduced.
  • With rainfall variations getting more pronounced, in addition to depleting groundwater reserves, the state will need concrete interventions to tackle future water requirements.

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National Groundwater Management Improvement Programme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Atal Bhujal Yojana

Mains level: Groundwater recharge and conservation efforts

The Government of India and the World Bank have signed a $450 million loan agreement to support the national programme to arrest the country’s depleting groundwater levels and strengthen groundwater institutions.

About the Programme

  • The World Bank-supported programme will be implemented in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh and cover 78 districts.
  • These states span both the hard rock aquifers of peninsular India and the alluvial aquifers of the Indo-Gangetic plains.
  • They were selected based on several criteria, including degree of groundwater exploitation and degradation, established legal and regulatory instruments, institutional readiness, and experience in implementing initiatives related to groundwater management.
  • This programme will contribute to rural livelihoods and in the context of climatic shifts, build resilience of the rural economy.

Objectives

The programme will, among others, enhance the recharge of aquifers and introduce water conservation practices; promote activities related to water harvesting, water management, and crop alignment; create an institutional structure for sustainable groundwater management; and equip communities and stakeholders to sustainably manage groundwater.

Particulars of the programme

  • The programme will introduce a bottom-up planning process for community-driven development of water budgets and Water Security Plans (WSPs).
  • Water budgets will assess surface and groundwater conditions (both quantity and quality) and identify current and future needs.
  • The WSP, on the other hand, will focus on improving groundwater quantity and incentivize selected states to implement the actions proposed.
  • Such community-led management measures will make users aware of consumption patterns and pave the way for economic measures that reduce groundwater consumption.
  • Crop management and diversification will be the other focus areas.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Arsenic Contamination

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Arsenic poisoning and its effects on food chain

Mains level: Groundwater contamination

As the geography of arsenic contamination spreads, there is an urgent need for governments to reorient mitigation measures. That’s because the focus till now has only been on drinking water, but new research says arsenic has contaminated our food chain.

Arsenic contamination of water

  • Arsenic contamination in groundwater is one of the most crippling issues in the drinking water scenario of India.
  • According to the latest report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), 21 states across the country have pockets with arsenic levels higher than the BIS stipulated permissible limit of 0.01 milligram per litre (mg/l).
  • The states along the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basin — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam — are the worst affected by this human-amplified geogenic occurrence.
  • In India, arsenic contamination was first officially confirmed in West Bengal in 1983.
  • Close to four decades after its detection, the scenario has worsened.
  • About 9.6 million people in West Bengal, 1.6 million in Assam, 1.2 million in Bihar, 0.5 million in Uttar Pradesh and 0.013 million in Jharkhand are at immediate risk from arsenic contamination in groundwater.

Effects of arsenic poisoning

  • Long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water can cause cancer in the skin, lungs, bladder and kidney. It can also cause other skin changes such as thickening and pigmentation.
  • The likelihood of effects is related to the level of exposure to arsenic and in areas where drinking water is heavily contaminated, these effects can be seen in many individuals in the population.
  • Increased risks of lung and bladder cancer and skin changes have been reported in people ingesting arsenic in drinking water at concentrations of 50 µg/litre, or even lower.

Affecting food

  • Recent research says arsenic contamination in groundwater has penetrated the food chain.
  • It eventually causes photo-accumulation of arsenic in the food crops, especially in the leaves, can emanate from contaminated water sprayed on them.
  • Yet the focus remained on drinking water, and the affected regions became the primary stake-holder in the mitigation approach.

Way forward

  • Mitigation measures — that are currently focused on drinking water — must have a more comprehensive approach to ensure arsenic-free water for drinking and agricultural products.
  • That means that the government must check for arsenic in water used for agricultural produce.
  • Both the Union and state governments must work toward facilitating research that can investigate the accumulation of arsenic in crops and addressing the agricultural concerns of the affected regions.
  • They must watch out for arsenic percolation in the food chain and the possibilities of biomagnification.
  • The government needs to also conduct a larger study on the arsenic contamination of our food chain and its health impacts to understand its spatial spread through the agricultural supply chain.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Energy stored in wastewater

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UNU-INWEH

Mains level: Need for wastewater management

The world generates about 380 trillion litres (tl) wastewater every year. These stores vast amounts of energy, nutrients for fertilizers besides, of course, water, according to recent study by the UN Institute for Water Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH).

Energy in wastewater

  • In principle, nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium recovered from wastewater produced annually can offset 13.4 per cent of global demand to produce fertilizers.
  • Assuming full-energy recovery, the study estimated, current wastewater volume could provide enough methane fuel to power 196 million households by 2030 and 239 million households by 2050.
  • Usable water reclaimed from wastewater can irrigate up to 31 million hectares (mha) of land, the study claimed.
  • The volume of wastewater being generated is projected to rise roughly 24 per cent by 2030 to 470 tl and 51 per cent by 2050 to 574 tl.
  • Treating wastewater efficiently can go a long way in achieving the UN-mandated sustainable development goals (SDG).

About UNU-INWEH

  • UNU-INWEH acts as the “UN Think Tank on Water” and contributes to the resolution of the global water challenge through a unique programme of applied research and education.
  • It conceives, develops, and manages water initiatives that help developing countries build their capacity for lasting improvements in human and ecosystem health, and overall reduction in poverty.
  • The  University is not a traditional university in the sense of having a faculty, campus, or students.
  • They respond directly to the regional and global water crisis and facilitate efforts to meet UN Development goals by providing a scientific evidence base.
  • UNU-INWEH carries out its work in cooperation with other research institutions, international organizations, individual scholars, and scientists throughout the world.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Ujh Multi-purpose Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: About the Project, Indus Water Treaty

Mains level: Indus Water Treaty

 

The Union government has approved a nearly ₹6,000-crore multi-purpose project for the Ujh multi-purpose project.

Ujh Multi-purpose Project

  • The project will store around 781 million cubic meters of water of river Ujh, a tributary of river Ravi.
  • It aims to provide uninterrupted water for irrigation to farmers in J&K’s Kathua district and to produce power.
  • After completion of the project, utilization of waters of eastern rivers allotted to India as per the Indus Water Treaty would be enhanced by utilising the flow that presently goes across the border to Pakistan.

Back2Basics

Indus Waters Treaty, 1960

  • The IWT is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank signed in Karachi in 1960.
  • According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej was given to India
  • The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan
  • The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects
  • India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run of the river (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.

Present Status of Development

  • To utilize the waters of the Eastern rivers which have been allocated to India for exclusive use, India has constructed Bhakra Dam on Satluj, Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi.
  • These storage works, together with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link, Indira Gandhi Nahar Project etc has helped India utilize nearly entire share (95 %) of waters of Eastern rivers.
  • However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilized to Pakistan below Madhopur.
  • The three projects will help India to utilize its entire share of waters given under the Indus Waters Treaty 1960:

I. Resumption of Construction of Shahpurkandi project

  • It is a dam project under construction on Ravi River.

II. Construction of Ujh multipurpose project

  • It is a dam project under construction on Ujh, a tributary of Ravi River.

III. 2nd Ravi Beas link below Ujh

  • This project is being planned to tap excess water flowing down to Pakistan through river Ravi, even after construction of Thein Dam.
  • It aims constructing a barrage across river Ravi for diverting water through a  tunnel link to Beas basin.

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Importance for the exams

  • Mains – Understand the problems with the existing water management institutions. How a new institutional framework tries to address these, its criticism.
  • Prelims – All the bodies involved, their structure, composition – CWC, CGWB and the proposed NWC.

In News

Mihir Shah Committee recommendations on institutional reforms are being considered by the govt. The Committee proposes setting up of a new National Water Commission(NWC) whose focus will be protection, conservation and preservation of water. It will subsume the present bodies – Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and Central Water Commission (CWC).
These reforms are necessary for the effective implementation of the two proposed laws whose drafts have been released by the Ministry of Water Resources.

Present Framework

Water Management is carried out by 2 bodies
  1. CGWB is responsible for framing policies and guidelines related to the exploitation of ground water .
  2. CWC deals with water in irrigation projects and reservoirs.
Work of river conservation and planning is divided among two Ministries, the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Environment. Glaciers and snow cover are dealt with by the Ministry of Earth Sciences from the point of view of climate change research.

Issues with the present framework

  1. These bodies were setup in an era when India faced completely different set of challenges. CWC was mostly concerned with the creation of irrigation capacity to ensure food security. Likewise, CGWB was concerned with availability of drinking water at the cost of groundwater exploitation. They are not equipped to meet the challenges of today.
  2. In the current setup, they work independently in an isolated manner with very little coordination leading to over extraction of groundwater and drying up of peninsular rivers.
  3. According to a CWC note, 11 different Departments or Ministries handle the subject of water in different ways.
 

Aim and working of NWC

  1. NWC will unify these 2 bodies and ensure all water-related activities are in sync with each other. Will views surface water and ground water in an integrated and holistic manner.
  2. River basin as a unit of planning – Given the integral link between aquifers, groundwater and river flows, it is important that planning for water management is done at the level of the river basin itself.
  3. It will stress on a multidisciplinary approach towards water usage and conservation by consulting professionals from across the domain
  4. Will follow a participatory approach where Local communities will have a decisive role in the allocation and use of water in their areas.
  5. Industries to declare water footprint.

Composition

1. Chief National Water Commissioner as its head.
2. Full time commissioners representing hydrology, hydrogeology, hydrometeorology, river ecology, ecological economics, agronomy (with focus on soil and water) and participatory resource planning and management.
3. 8 divisions –  Irrigation Reform, River Rejuvenation, Participatory Groundwater Management, Urban and Industrial Water, Water Security (including droughts, floods and climate change) and Water Quality

Criticism

1. The proposed reforms were already being taken up by CGWB and CWC and now they fear will be lost. The recommendations state that they will be merged within the 8 divisions.
2. No way to tell if it will be an effective tool to resolve inter-state issues.

RSTV

Old Water Policy 2012
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