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Water is one of the basic necessities of human life. The rapidly growing today’s surroundings has led to an increase in demand of water in areas restricted not only to daily usage and agriculture but also to areas like energy, industry, domestic as well as tertiary sector. There are certain crucial issues and problems that are faced by India in the water sector which lead to shortfall of water availability for the Indian population. Such issues include:
- Uneven distribution of rainfall, leading to floods and droughts in various regions.
- Inefficient use and management of water.
- Unregulated groundwater extraction and over exploitation of groundwater leading to groundwater depletion.
- Water pollution.
- Depleted and degraded water quality due to poor implementation of waste management laws.
- Poor access to safe and clean drinking water.
- Pressure of industrialization and urbanization.
What are the major programs for water management that are currently active?
With ever increasing need for water resources and increasing challenges in the water sector has led to this realization that our water resources are in dire need of conservation. The availability of these resources and their supply to the world population is limited adding to the conservation of these resources becoming an even more important step. Several efforts have been made by India time and again to conserve the water resources. Major currently active programs are:
- National Water Mission.
- State Specific Action Plan under National Water Mission.
- National Rural Drinking Water Program.
- National Mission for Clean Ganga.
- Interlinking of Rivers.
- CADWM Program.
- Flood Management Wing Program.
- R&D Program in water sector.
- Dam rehabilitation and improvement program.
- Base Line Studies for improving Water Use Efficiency (WUE) in Irrigation sector are being carried out as well.
Announcement of new Jal Jeevan Mission by PM Modi: Salient Features
The Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi on 15th of August, 2019 announced from the ramparts of Red Fort that the government of India is going to launch the ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’. Under this mission, the main aim is to bring piped water to households across. It has been estimated that the said project would cost somewhere around Rs. 3.5 lakh crore. This program comes when India is facing a severe water crisis. The mission would function under the Jal Shakti Ministry. It aims to make water available to every rural household by 2024. Salient features of this mission are:
- It aims at ensuring water availability in all rural households by 2024.
- The first phase of the program would focus on rainwater harvesting and water conservation.
- The first phase would be carried out in 256 districts initially.
- It also focuses on renovation of traditional water bodies and tanks.
- The program also aims to restructure and renovate the ways of reuse of water and recharge structures.
- Another important step to be undertaken is afforestation.
- The program will also give importance to watershed development.
The waterways ahead…
It is a fact that 70% of our planet is covered with water. But on the other hand, this is also true that only 2.5% of that 70% is fresh-water that can be used by living beings. This limited resource will need to support a projected population of 9.7 billion by 2050; and by that date, an estimated 3.9 billion or over 40% of the world’s population will live in severely water-stressed river basins.
The excessive use of water has also led to degradation in availability of water for usages. As this life supporting element decreases, the competition to have it or to have access to it has increased. Almost 60% of entire surface water comes from some or the other internationally shared water basins and there are an estimated 592 such transboundary aquifers. Thus, a continuing co-operation and co-ordination between the nations becomes an even more crucial need of the world today.
Some progress has definitely been made on national as well as international level by undertaking various water conservation and management programs and by signing several treaties on the said issue. However, there is still a long way to go towards water sustainability. We hope that the newly launched mission will establish itself as a step in that direction.
–This article is brought to you in collaboration with Aprajita Jha from National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam.