From the Viewsroom

It gets worse each summer

A Srinivas | Updated on April 08, 2021

Water nightmares are back, but are the right lessons being learnt?

The northern and eastern States are staring at a water crisis, with an early summer threatening to make matters worse. The latest Central Water Commission data on reservoir levels (as on April 8) makes for grim reading. The eight reservoirs being monitored by CWC in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan are filled up to just 21 per cent of their live storage capacity, against 48 per cent in the corresponding period last year and the 10 year average of 33 per cent.

The 20 reservoirs being monitored in the eastern States have water up to 37 per cent of their live storage capacity, against 57 per cent last year and the decadal average of 45 per cent. The levels of 42 reservoirs in the western States, at 49 per cent, are above the decadal average of 34 per cent. In the southern States, too, the current levels of 37 reservoirs at 38 per cent is 15 percentage points more than the 10 year trend. However, a long, scorching summer with a delayed monsoon could create difficulties for these regions as well. It has been observed (as pointed by the Twelfth Plan document) that the monsoon months report more dry days and thereby high temperatures -- amidst sudden spells of almost violent rain. This does not help preserve surface and groundwater levels, more so amidst widespread deforestation and mindless urbanisation.

A late monsoon helps the rabi crop but the subsequent dry wave and the onset of early summer reduces surface water levels. In the Himalayan States, snowfall cover is reported to be at its lowest in recent years.

Uttarakhand needs to be saved from ecological catastrophe. Its hills have been gouged out by JCBs to make dams and roads. Tourism needs to be checked in catchment areas. The water demand of metros needs to be managed by reviving local water bodies. For water management, agriculture practices alone are not to blame. An infra-led approach to development can be damaging.

Published on April 08, 2021

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