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Tackling the growing water crisis
The problem needs no introduction. There are a number of reasons for the severe shortage of potable water in most parts of India. These are listed below:

Inadequate Rainfall 

Some areas like Marathwada are in rain shadow areas and never receive adequate rainfall. In other areas the quantity of rainfall varies with the performance of the monsoons. The monsoon rains depend on various factors like global warming and El Nimo. Rainfall is beyond our control. 

Depleting Ground Water 

A major portion of drinking and irrigation water in both rural and urban areas comes from ground water. This is being depleted because the rate at which we are drawing ground water is more than the rate at which it is being replenished. Deforestation and neglect of existing water bodies is reducing the rate of recharging of ground water. Excessive use in urban areas, water intensive crops like cotton, rice and sugarcane and for industries is depleting ground water at an unsustainable rate. For example, a beer company in Alwar Rajasthan is drawing lakhs of litres of water every day while half the population of the city do not get even a few litres of water every day. 

Poor Maintenance of Infrastructure 

Water supply infrastructure like hand pumps, mechanical pumps, pumping stations and pipe lines are not properly maintained and do not work or there are excessive losses during distribution. Poor maintenance leads to leaking pipelines and taps and results in wastage of precious water. 

Contamination of Water Sources 

Greedy industrialists and corrupt government officials and politicians are allowing untreated industrial effluents and sewage into rivers, nallas, lakes and other water bodies making the water from these sources unfit for human use.      

Recharging Ground Water 

This requires very little investment and must be given the highest priority. There are many ways of doing it. Some are listed below. 

Construction of Weirs in River Beds 

The British has done this extensively in parts of Maharashtra on some seasonal rivers by constructing bunds or weirs just downstream of villages. Examples are easily seen at Mula River at Bund Gardens Pune and all along Indriyani River north of Pune with a very prominent one at Alandi. The rain water collected at the bundh is used by villagers for bathing, washing and cattle. The ground water is also recharged. These projects can be done by panchayets, district administration and state irrigation departments on all seasonal rivers in their area depending on the cost of the project. Since no land acquisition is involved these projects are cheap and can be constructed quickly. MP and MLA area development funds can also be used for them. 

Recharging Ground Water through Dry Wells 

There is a need to recharge ground water quickly by guiding filtered rain water into dry wells.  A de-silting pond should be dug close to the well. Rain water should be guided into the pond through a large size wire mesh to stop debris from flowing into the pond. A hole should be made in the well wall to let the de-silted water flow into the well.  This kind of projects cost very little and can be taken up by rich farmers and village Panchayets. 

Maintaining Existing Water Bodies 

Lakes, ponds, swamps, dams etc are vital for recharging ground water. These water bodies need to be maintained by removing encroachments to water inflow into them and by desilting and deepening them so that their water holding capacity is increased. This has to be done by village panchayets and municipal corporations. The responsibility for maintaining dams lies with the irrigation departments. Private ponds should be maintained by owners. Some industrialists or rich philanthropists may like to take over some of these water bodies and develop them into parks. MNREGA and MP MLA area development funds can be used for the purpose. Commercial activities like rearing ducks, fish, growing water chestnuts and facilities for boat rides and food courts along with toilets can generate revenue for maintenance of the water bodies. 

Recharging Dry Hand Pumps 

This can be done by digging a small pond and a bore about 10 ft from the hand pump and guiding rain water and waste water from the surrounding areas into it. The water from the pond will percolate into the ground through the bore. The water table in the area will slowly rise and the hand pump could become functional. 

Recharging Dry Bore Wells 

The method is similar to recharging dry wells. 

Water Harvesting by Individuals, Institutions and Industries 

Water harvesting must be done by all individuals living in independent houses, housing colonies, institutions, armed forces and para-military forces and university campuses. Industries must harvest rain water which falls on their premises. All that is required is construction of storage tanks for the water. A 100 sqm roof of a small house 10m by 10m in a region which receives 4 cm rain will receive 100x.04 or 4 cum of rain water. That is 4000 litres. A factory shed of 10,000 sq m in the same area could collect 4 lakh litres of water. The use of the harvested water will reduce the water supply requirements of municipalities and industrial areas and conserve ground water. 

What We Need to Do 

We should not rely on government servants and politicians. They have no time for the Aam Admi. We must do what we can for ourselves and the Aam Admii. 

We must build storage tanks in our houses, particularly in rural areas, industrial areas, armed forces and paramilitary units, schools, colleges and harvest rain water and use it for gardening and non drinking purposes. 

Those of us who can afford  should adopt hand pumps and provide finances for their maintenance. 

We should adopt and recharge dry wells in our villages or premises. 

We must raise our voices against pollution of ground water and water bodies and insist that these be made criminal offences and the directors of such industries must be jailed. 

We must forward this mail or share its contents with politicians, district administrators, sarpanches and panchayet members, school and college authorities, industrialists, farm house owners, NGOs like Lions Club and rich farmers in the hope some of them will initiate projects for recharging ground water. 

We must plead with our politician friends and media to campaign with state government to make it mandatory for all gated colonies to have a pond equal to 10% of the plot area with adequate depth  and storage capacity for collecting rain water which falls within the walls of the colony. Societies of gated colonies can create the pond on their own and use the water for recharging their bores and for non drinking purposes.


Please do not think that you will remain untouched by the approaching water crisis. Those living in the posh colonies of Chennai are already in trouble. Less said about the plight of urban and rural poor the better. Those of us who have the means must do their bit.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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