Friday, August 15, 2008

Rainwater harvesting path to beat water shortage in India

Times of India: What if mega projects, glitzy malls and booming property market - the face of Gujarat's development - get derailed by water shortage? One solution would be to ensure water security alongside development by using sustainable rainwater harvesting (RWH) techniques.

"Making Gujarat water secure needs multiple approaches and RWH is the safest and least expensive option. Relying solely on mega projects like Sardar Sarovar Project and the proposed Kalpasar would be a mistake. Water security needs a 'bottom-up ' vision and community leadership to make every drop count," says Priyadarshi Shukla, member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). IPCC has predicted intensification of global hydrological cycle putting both groundwater and surface water supply under further stress.

The annual supply of usable water from Nar mada, Tapi, Mahi and Sabarmati basins is 54 billion cubic metre (BCUM). As Gujarat is at the downstream, only a fraction of this water is available for use in the state. "Overexploitation of upstream water and future climatic changes pose grave risks to river water supply. Mega water projects operating on the supply-side could become stranded assets," says Shukla , who is a faculty member of the Indian Institute of Management , Ahmedabad (IIM-A ).

Most water risks are borne by the poor who can't afford water marketed by mega projects. RWH is a decentralized source and requires scattered investments which are negligible compared to mega projects. Traditional RWH practices can come handy.

"These were prevalent in the state since the Indus Valley Civilization times for over 4,000 years. Several step-wells or 'vavs' were constructed to harvest water. In the current AUDA area of 1,300 sq km, 400 village ponds existed, though most have dried up now," says Shukla….

Locator map of the state of Gujarat, India with district boundaries, University of Texas map library, altered by "Nichalp, Planemad," Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license, Version 1.2

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