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Catch the rain campaign

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    21st Jun, 2021

Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti has urged his fellow legislators by writing individual letters to support the ongoing 'Catch The Rain Campaign' under National Water Mission during the monsoon season.

Context

Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti has urged his fellow legislators by writing individual letters to support the ongoing 'Catch The Rain Campaign' under National Water Mission during the monsoon season.

Background

  • The campaign with the theme 'Catch the rain where it falls, when it falls' was launched by Prime Minister on March 22, coinciding with the World Water Day.
  • The campaign aims at tapping rainwater by constructing artificial recharge structures, revitalising existing ponds and water bodies, creating new water bodies, provisioning check dams, rejuvenating wetlands and rivers before the onset of monsoon.
  • It is also planned to create a database of all water bodies in the country by geo-tagging them and using this data to create scientific and data-based district-level water conservation plans.

National Water Mission

The main objective of the National Water Mission is “conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management”. The five identified goals of the Mission are:

(a) comprehensive water data base in public domain and assessment of impact of climate change on water resource

(b) promotion of citizen and state action for water conservation, augmentation and preservation

(c) focused attention to vulnerable areas including over-exploited areas

(d) increasing water use efficiency by 20%

(e) promotion of basin level integrated water resources management

Analysis

Why water conservation is required?

  • The Comprehensive Water Management Index (CWMI) 2019
    • 16 out of the 27 states still score less than 50 points on the Index (out of 100), and fall in the low-performing category. These states collectively account for ~48% of the population, ~40% of agricultural produce, and ~35% of economic output of India
    • Given the indispensable role of water in any form of economic activity, water shortages can lead to reduced output in the states with low score, and as a consequence, threaten employment and livelihood opportunities in these population clusters
    • Food security is also at risk, given that large agricultural producers are struggling to manage their water resources effectively
  • Central Water Commission’s Reservoir Level & Storage Bulletin
    • The total live storage capacity of 130 reservoirs monitored across India is 174.233 BCM which is about 67.58% of the live storage capacity of 257.812 BCM which is estimated to have been created in the country
    • As per reservoir storage bulletin dated 17.06.2021, live storage available in these reservoirs is 47.631 BCM, which is 27% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs

Why rainwater harvesting is desirable?

Water harvesting initiatives are driven by firm beliefs and assumptions, some of which are:

  • there is a huge amount of monsoon flow, which remains un-captured and eventually ends up in the natural sinks, especially seas and oceans, supported by the national level aggregates of macro hydrology
  • local water needs are too small and as such exogenous water is not needed
  • local water harvesting systems are always small and, therefore, are cost effective
  • since the economic, social and environmental values of water are very high in regions hit by water shortages, water harvesting interventions are viable, supported by the assumption that cost- effective alternatives that can bring in the same amount of water, do not exist
  • incremental structures lead to incremental benefits
  • being small with low water storage and diversion capacities, they do not pose negative consequences for downstream uses

State success stories: participatory and decentralized rural water management

  • MUKHYA MANTRI JAL SWAVLAMBHAN ABHIYAN , RAJASTHAN

After first phase there was 56% reduction of water supply through tankers and an average rise in the groundwater table by 4.66 feet in 21 non-desert districts of the states

  • NEERU-CHETTU PROGRAMME, ANDHRA PRADESH

Efforts under the Neeru-Chettu programme have enabled irrigation access to nearly 2,10,000 acres of land in the state

  • JALYUKT SHIVAR ABHIYAN, MAHARASHTRA

11,000 villages have been declared drought-free and agricultural productivity has increased by 30-50%.

  • JAKHNI VILLAGE, BUNDELKHAND, UTTAR PRADESH

Jakhni village of Banda district in the Bundelkhand region was one of the most water scarce regions of India. Once a drought prone village, now produces nearly 23,000 quintals of Basmati rice.

Other strategies of water conservation

  • Better Irrigation Practices: For crop irrigation, optimal water efficiency  means  minimizing losses  due  to  evaporation, runoff or subsurface drainage.
  • Use of Saline Water for Irrigation- Saline water is widely available but rarely used. Salt resistant varieties of crops have also been developed in recent times.
  • Mulching, e.,  the  application  of  organic  or  inorganic  material  such  as  plant  debris, compost, etc., slows down the surface run-off, improves the soil moisture, reduces evaporation losses and improves soil fertility.
  • Fog and dew contain substantial amounts of water that can be used directly by adapted plant species. Artificial surfaces such as netting-surfaced traps or polyethylene sheets can be exposed to fog and dew.
  • Contour farming is adopted in hilly areas and in lowland areas for paddy fields. Farmers recognize the efficiency of contour-based systems for conserving soil and water.
  • Tippy Tap for water conservation: - Tippy Tap is a simple device which dispenses a limited amount of water slowly and facilitates a thorough hand wash. In case of piped water supply, every time the tap is opened for a hand wash, an average of 300 - 500 ml of water is utilized. Using Tippy Tap it is possible to have a good hand wash with only 60 to 80 ml of water
  • Propagation of Dry Garden/Eco Lawns- As a  step towards  water conservation  and propagation of native plant  species, drought resistant plantation (plants requiring less water) should be carried out.
  • Soak pit construction- Water run offs and water logging are combated by constructing soak pits near water points like hand pumps. This is a sanitation measure and also helps in recharge of ground water.

Conclusion

In order to tackle the multi-faceted drivers and impacts of water scarcity, states must adopt a water lens into policy making and planning across sectors. Importantly, states must supplement urgent top-down water legislations with a grassroots management approach that involves local community organizations, NGOs, farmer groups, and industry bodies in ideation and implementation of water related policies and projects.

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