After reading this article you will learn about water resource planning for future in India.
The drinking water crisis in Indian cities has reached explosive proportions. For years, urban dwellers have been silently suffering an intermittent supply of poor quality water. Now their patience has run out. Water riots have already occurred in several cities and could be repeated in many more.
On paper, over 70 percent of the population of Class I towns—including the metropolitan cities—are supposed to be covered by the public water supply system.
In fact, as the reports in this section illustrate, people living in even the most generously supplied city experience acute shortages largely due to an iniquitous water distribution network which supplies disproportionate quantities of water to richer areas while starving the poor.
The reasons for water scarcity in urban areas can be placed in three broad categories. First, a lack of foresight and bad planning. Most water supply systems were installed decades ago for a small urban population.
Today, they are old, badly maintained and grossly inefficient. In some cities, up to 20 per cent of water is wasted due to leakages. Where sewage networks run alongside water pipes, there is cross- contamination leading to epidemics.
Secondly, inadequate financial resources have held up the modernisation and extension of urban water supply networks. But the fault lies not just with external funding sources but also with Central and state governments, who have failed to anticipate the rapid growth in urban populations and have also not devised strategies to recover their investment on water.
In the majority of Indian cities, water is grossly under-priced with water charges that cover barely one-eighth of the costs. In some cities, there are absolutely no water charges. As a result, there is little incentive to conserve or to recycle—leading to wasteful use of a scarce resource.
Thirdly, even those cities that have developed some water sources—often some distance from the city—have failed to protect them. Industries are permitted to locate close to these water sources. Inadequate enforcement of water pollution regulations has inevitably led to contamination—either by industrial pollutants or municipal wastes being discharged. In cities as far apart as Tirupur in the south and New Delhi in the north, domestic drinking water supplies are being regularly contaminated in this way.
Water scarcity has forced people to take desperate measures, often ones that have led to the depletion of existing sources. For instance, in cities where groundwater is available, people have indiscriminately dug shallow and deep wells, leading eventually to groundwater supplies being exhausted.
Elsewhere, selling water has become a lucrative business. On rickshaws, bicycles or in road tankers, private suppliers ferry water from outside city limits and sell it per bucket to the city’s thirsty populace.
Water Resource Management means rational and effective management—at economically viable and ecologically sustainable development—of available resources in the contemporary setting without causing deleterious effects on the basic life support system and without endangering the resource base which is already under stress.
An overall outline of Integrated water resource planning of an area is shown in Table 27.2.
It also points to the action programme which ensures the benefits derived from the water-related projects to be evenly distributed, as far as practicable, to the target people as well as with social, physical, and biological fronts.
In other words, it means the rationality in the water distribution to ensure the availability of the resource in right quantity and desired quality to meet the needs of different sectors at the right time rather than yielding to the pressure of the interested groups.
To achieve this it is imperative to understand the interrelationship of the various components of the hydrologic cycle which governs the occurrence, distribution, movement, storage and availability of water resources in time and space. Obviously, this would vary from place to place, from country to country.