Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Depleting groundwater and dry ponds in the country side indicate horrifying prospect. Yet, the politicians have no time to think of the thirsty poor. In my village and surrounding areas until a few decades ago, the surface water was effectively used for irrigation, fisheries and cattle use and underground water for drinking purposes. Now the entire pressure of water consumption is shifted to underground water. As a result there is alarming drop in the level of groundwater year after year. Some people believe that the third World War will be for water.

To understand the management of water, we need to have some idea of 'Water Cycle'. The sea water that evaporates to form clouds is condensed as rainwater that falls on the surface of earth. A small part of the rainwater goes under ground to form groundwater and is stored there for future need. The ground water is filtered through permeable rocks and is clean enough for human consumption. The other part of rainwater is stored as surface water in the ponds, lakes and reservoirs. The surface water is suitable for use in irrigation, horticulture, fisheries, industries and cattle consumption.

Recently I visited many villages in the districts of Lucknow, Barabanki and Sitapur and found that the village ponds are filled with wild grasses, hyacinth (jalkumbhi), humus and mud. Several of the old ponds are converted even to residential areas. Millions of rupees spent through NAREGA and MANREGA, have not increased water storage capacity of village ponds. Needless to say, the harvesting of rainwater in these ponds, not the drops of water from roof tops would solve our problem of water scarcity.

Natural storage of rainwater, among other things, has pre-requisite of optimum forest cover and thick vegetation If the ground is covered with thick vegetation, forests and soil cover, the flow of rain water will be slow and time allowed for down percolation of water will be more. Large quantities of water will be stored on the surface as well as under ground. However, if the ground is bald and barren, the run off will be fast leaving little time for rain water to go under ground or to be soaked in the soil.

We need to have 'Water Use Policy ' based on sustainable water supply. We used to have one or more ponds in every village with controlling bodies for management of surface water, something like ‘Pani Panchayats’ Successive Governments of Independent India have overlooked the traditional wisdom of our country.

. Greedy vote catchers provide subsidised and even free electricity to farmers to drive them towards tube wells for irrigation and fisheries. The ground water is pumped out to fill the ponds made by digging agricultural lands.. The Governments encourage such ventures of fisheries by providing financial assistance and grants to influential people.

Economy in consumption of water is an integral part of water management. Indeed, the proper management of surface water is key to the solutions of future challenges of depleting water resource.

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