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Water Management in India- What India Can Learn From Israel?

Two of the well-developed states in the country i.e. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are facing one of the worst water-crisis of the decade. The people of metro cities, Bengaluru and Chennai are rallying hard to meet their water needs. Once a majestic river Cauvery now lies almost dry.

What do all these events suggest? Yes, it calls for proper water management in India. It’s not that these things have not been mulled over before, but this time around the crisis is hitting the people and government very hard and immediate measures to curb the menace is the need of the hour. Perhaps, India can take a cue or two from the water management practices adopted by the water-deficit country like Israel.

Need for Water Management in India

  • According to the Economic Survey 2019-20, by 2050, India will be the global hotspot for ‘Water Insecurity’. The same survey also states that around 89% of the groundwater extracted is used for irrigation and crops such as sugarcane and paddy consume almost 60% of the irrigation water.
  • Recently, the Ministry of Jal Shakti stated that out the 178.7 million rural households in the country, only 32.7 million or 18% approx. have access to drinking water from tap connections.
  • Several reports and surveys have highlighted the fact that groundwater table levels in the country is depleting fast and trends are not encouraging in terms of future perspectives.
  • India is a country of diverse geography, from Himalayas to plains form rivers and seas to deserts. Being a monsoon based agricultural economy, it is imperative for the government to devise strategy to effectively conserve water in the country.
  • India’s water crisis is also attributed to lack of government planning, increased corporate privatization, industrial and human waste and government corruption.

What all can be done?

  • The foremost remedy will be to decrease the amount of water used for irrigation purposes. For this to be achieved, few things can be done:-
  • Field channels can be constructed within the cropped areas in order to conserve the excess water coming into the fields.
  • Performing shallow tillage operations before land soaking can be great help for water conservation. It will fill the cracks and reduce the volume of water required for land preparation.
  • Farm lands must be covered with the construction of bunds around it. The average height of bunds should be high enough (at least 20 cm) to avoid overflowing during heavy rainfall.
  • The ambitious yet advantageous Interlinking of river water project should be brought into the picture soon. At least the states can come together for sharing of river basin and relevant crucial information.
  • The country needs to implement a specific plan for the water-stressed states.
  • More efficient usage of water can be achieved, if the government starts charging for water the households use in the lines of electricity supply. But the government also needs to ensure that proper infrastructure for the purpose is constructed.
  • The Government needs to encourage local participation for conserving water in the country.

The Learning Curve – Israel Model
While treating almost 94% of its waste water generated and recycling around 85% of water, Israel has become a premier example for the world for water conservation. To emulate this, India first of all has to put its rainwater harvesting systems in place.

Desalinization plants are a key piece of the process, embellished by rather extreme rationing, low flow everything, and high public awareness of the value of every drop. The country has also build a sophisticated network of over 250 storage tanks and large reservoirs that provide water during the dry, hot summer months. It is one such country which ensures that 505 of the water used should be man-made i.e. the water created by the people from the wastewater.

It recycles every drop of wastewater and makes it available for use. Micro-irrigation facilities are not only confined to the crop fields but also in the gardens, parks as well.

India can surely take the assistance of the Israel government in this regard and make efficient use of its water resources in times to come.

Water crisis has become a sort of menace for the country and so the water conservation should be made a mass movement. The central government needs to effectively handle the supply and demand side of water supply and each citizen of the country should play its part to overcome the crisis in the country in a way that we leave behind ample amount of resources for the future generations.

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