Protecting traditional water sources from destruction

Protecting traditional water sources from destruction

 By Vijay Garg

For the fulfillment of his water needs, man is still dependent on nature or on groundwater.  In such a situation, it is necessary that we are sensitive to the conservation of the sources of natural water storage.  But we have treated the traditional water sources very softly and selfishly.  The old ponds, wells, lakes, stepwells and cisterns were left neglected.  polluted the rivers.

 This time the United Nations has chosen groundwater as the theme of World Water Day.  That is, this year efforts will be made to make people aware about taking various measures to save and increase the level of groundwater around the world.  It is important that groundwater is the biggest support for the needs of human life on earth.

 When the rain clouds get disturbed due to some reason, the ground water only fulfills the needs of human beings.  Unfortunately, the modern lifestyle in the world has increased the exploitation of ground water in an unbridled way, but has also made indifferent to the conservation of all those water resources which play an important role in maintaining the level of ground water.  In India, wells, ponds and johads were a special contribution in this context, which stored rain water and thus helped in maintaining the ground water level of the area.

 Such deep wells are found in the desert areas of Rajasthan that they are called Pataltod wells.  Unfortunately, in areas where water reached through taps, both the citizens and the administration became indifferent to the conservation of pristine water resources.  The tube wells dug out without control have done the right thing, which discharge the water inside the earth outside, but do not play any role in maintaining the level of water inside the earth.  For example, some time back the Rajasthan government did away with the provision of prior approval before starting the process of harnessing groundwater in urban areas as well.

 Due to this, the work of digging tube wells in the ground and digging wells in an uncontrolled manner started.  Those who are committed to water conservation for the future of humanity, this situation scares them because uncontrolled exploitation of ground water has worsened the already available water storage situation in many parts of the state.

 Every year in the summer season, various scary pictures of water crisis come to the fore from different parts of the country.  In the year 2020 and 2021, the discussion of water-crisis was less, because the whole humanity was facing the crisis of corona epidemic.  Otherwise, remember that in its previous years, Shimla had appealed to people to stop the movement of tourists due to the water crisis and in a metropolis like Chennai, people were advised to work from home, as there was no drinking water for everyone in the offices.  Even water was not available.  Every year water crisis disturbs normal life in Bundelkhand.  Reports of violent skirmishes for water also surfaced in the summer of 2020, but their discussion in the media was less.

 The news of water crisis may have gone in the background, but the concern of water conservation is one of the most burning issues for humanity.  The major reason for this is that for the fulfillment of his water related needs, man is still either dependent on nature or on groundwater.  In such a situation, it is necessary that we are sensitive to the conservation of the sources of natural water storage.  But we have treated the traditional water sources very softly and selfishly.  The old ponds, wells, lakes, stepwells and cisterns were left neglected.

 polluted the rivers.  The situation is that the water of most of the rivers of the country has not been found even potable at many places.  The holy river Ganges is also included in this list.  These ancient water bodies not only stored sufficient amount of water during their existence, but also played an important role in maintaining the ground water level.  But unfortunately the modern norms of progress have struck a double blow on this wealth of nature.

 Not only were traditional water sources destroyed, but groundwater was also exploited arbitrarily.  Things got worse in the 1970s when governments, without considering the future possibilities, dug tube wells on a large scale across the country.  This met the immediate needs of the people, but the storage conditions for the future became dire.  According to an official report, the groundwater exploitation which was 60 per cent in 1975 has increased to 400 per cent in 1995.

 Every story of conflicts over water reinforces the fear of some scientists that the next world war may not be over water.  That too when two-thirds of the earth is surrounded by water.  But when we know the fact that 97.2 percent of the total available water on earth is marine and it is not possible to use it for drinking, then we are aware.  The availability of water in the year 1989 was nine thousand cubic meters, which is likely to be reduced to five thousand one hundred cubic meters by 2025.  Indiscriminate exploitation of ground water is also a major reason for the increasing water crisis.

 According to a report of the Central Ground Water Board, the groundwater level in the country declined by sixty-one percent between 2007 and 2017.  The situation has become such that even in the villages situated on the banks of many rivers, people are facing the shortage of drinking water.  It is important that India is at the top in the use of ground water in the whole world.  China and the US are ranked second and third respectively.

 A joint research report by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Khadgupar and Athabasca University in Canada states that Indians use an average of two hundred and thirty cubic kiloliters of water annually.  This figure exceeds the water use norms considered by global agencies as essential to human communities.  It is also believed that if water is used after a certain limit, then it is not actually used, but misused.

 We may come up with ways to justify our abuse on the basis of reasonableness, but this situation is intimidating.  Especially when we read this data of NITI Aayog’s Water Management Index that even today seventy-five percent of the households in the country do not have proper water supply system.  It is clear that most of them are from the marginalized sections.  This class has to face the crisis born out of the convenient habits of the affluent class.

 It is said that nature has the resources to satisfy the needs of all beings, but that greed cannot satisfy anyone.  Unfortunately, the behavior of mankind in terms of water use has been greedy as well as careless.  When the purity of rivers was challenged by pollution, traditional water bodies like wells, stepwells, kunds, johads and ponds became victims of ever-increasing hunger or neglect of the land.  The traditional means of rainwater harvesting were considered irrelevant by the modern lifestyle.  In such a situation, it is necessary that we should be conscious about the conservation of the available storage of water and should be aware of the storage of rainwater.  Only this awareness can save us from future troubles.

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