Save rivers: Avoid a grave water crisis

Rivers are the lifeline of India. Indians civilization, it’s ancient and big cities are situated and developed on the banks of the rivers. All the ancient Indian civilization resides on the banks of the river. The banks of the rivers have been bearing the population pressures and development necessities have resulted in neglectful exploitation of our rivers and ground waters. There is hardly any planning, deliberate neglect of the rivers have led to this serious situation. The natural link between rivers, nature and people has been disturbed. India is heading for a serious water crisis and we need a corrective measure to come out of this crisis.
Around 80% of water is used in irrigation followed by drinking needs, industry and energy sector. There is only rivers and groundwater to meet these requirements. On the demand side, remedial steps like river linking, construction of dams, check dams, and promoting rainwater-harvesting systems must be stepped up. Remedial measures needed urgently.
The per capita water accessibility is declining at a very fast rate in India. In 1951, this was 5177 cubic meters, which in 2011 declined to 1545 cubic meters. This is against the worldwide threshold for water strain attached at 1700 cubic meters. According to the National Institute of Hydrology study, India uses utilizable per capita water accessibility at presently 938 cubic meters in 2010 and anticipates this to fall to 814 cubic meters by 2025.
The best and the easiest solution proposed to revitalize rivers is their interlinking so that surplus rainy water in one river can be channelized to another. The science and technology behind this is very easy and positive. The present BJP government appears very enthusiastic to start such useful engineering achievements. The work has already started on Rs 18,000 crore Ken-Betwa interlinking project. India has hundreds of rivers, so this interlinking scheme can solve all the water shortages.
Second, dams should be built on rivers to save them. Without dams, a river dies. Hindon river of Ghaziabad, Kali Nadi of Bulandshahr, Kwari Nadi of Etah, Sot river, Bagad river, Cholas river of Hapur-Garh, Mithi river of Mumbai, Vrishabhavathi river of Bangluru, Cooum river and Adyar river of Chennai have almost vanished because there is no dam on these rivers and these rivers are not recharged by interlinking with other rivers. Catchment areas, riverbanks, wetlands are critical catchment areas for rain-fed rivers but they are all encroached. It’s best to remove all the encroachments from these areas to recharge the rivers.
The government must make it mandatory for all the industries, offices, houses and farmers to build a rainwater harvesting system on their land. This technology will recharge and purify the groundwater.
Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan is very harmful to the interest of the nation. This treaty must be scrapped. If this treaty is scraped and rivers are interlinked, the problem of water shortage in the Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and UP will be solved for hundreds of years.
It is also a very good suggestion of the Rally for Rivers campaign to reserve a one-kilometre-wide belt along with riverbanks for generating tree cover and recharge of the rivers. Massive tree plantation of desi and native trees like Bunyan, peepal, neem, pilkhan, Sheesham, mango, guava, jamun, shahtoot, etc should be taken on the riverbanks. There must be planning devoted to firm up tree cover along the rivers, which would deliver environmental, social, food, employment and economic benefits. The more responsibility is on state governments as water is a state subject. Act now or get ready for dry future and desertification.
Dr.Yogesh Sharma

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