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Renowned Hydrogeologist Favours Judicious Management Of Every Available water resource

In an exclusive interview to Anjishnu Biswas, editor of exoticecho.com,Mr. Subhajyoti Das who visited the USA on UNDP Fellowship for training connected with “Integrated Use of all Water Resources” speaks comprehensively about the requirement for judicious water management to tackle India's water crises. Mr. Subhajyoti Das, one of the eminent Hydrogeologists of India has contributed significantly to groundwater research in the country through his pioneering work and related activities in groundwater studies. Mr. Das who visited the USA on UNDP Fellowship for training connected with “Integrated Use of all Water Resources”, in the Colorado State University (Fort Colins), US geological Survey (Tucson), American Water Foundation and Salt River Project (Phoenix) was also the Regional Director of the Central Ground Water Board of India. Mr. Das is currently the editor of a journal published by the Geological Society of India, Bangalore. In an exclusive interview to Anjishnu Biswas, the editor of exoticecho.com, Mr Subhajyoti Das emphasizes on the need for judicious management of all available water resources to cope up with the perennial water crises of India.

A small percentage amounting to 2.53 comprises global fresh water compared to 96.5 percent being salty in oceans. India with its populace of one billion has access to only 4 percent of the world’s freshwater reserves. Therefore barely a minute percentage is obtainable for consumption and food production, which too is thinning with the passage of time together with escalating expansion of populace. In 1947 the per capita accessibility to freshwater in India was 5000 cubic meter yearly while in 2000 it was 2000 cubic meter annually and is expected to slump under 1000 cubic meter annually by 2050 and in the process attaining the threshold value for water shortage. Global warming along with seasonal rainfall alterations is additionally worsening this vital condition with alterations in hydrologic cycles. The Himalayan Rivers are diminishing in surges with reducing glaciers. Presently, 150 cm of yearly average rainfall in the nation, drought vulnerable semi-arid regions comprise over one third of the geographical region, which forms a sizeable component of Peninsular hard rock regions of India. At these places, while accessibility to surface water is not guaranteed, the groundwater supplies, too, available in the secondary porosity of fractured and weathered hard rocks is restricted, with low-yielding aquifers. Subsequent to extreme surface water paucity groundwater is frequently over utilized leading to constant decrease in groundwater level, aquifer desaturation, lessening of well yield, reduction in levels of wells and other related unfavorable ecological as well as environmental consequences. This results in widespread water shortage in these areas disturbing the drinking water accessibility to a great extent. Agriculture cannot flourish and the rural economy too fails to develop. Strangely though whatever rainfall takes place, a considerable component is lost as flash floods or runoff to the sea. Therefore what is required is the careful management of all obtainable water resources.

Traditionally management of water has been prevalent in India, which mostly consisted of building of tanks, ponds, kunds, and johads to store rainwater to cope up with the requirement for drinking as well as restricted irrigation for food production, in spite of scanty rainfall in two to three seasons successively. These uncomplicated water garnering structures became useless with the passage of time because of total apathy and dearth of protection, complicated expertise of dams and large reservoirs occupying their position. At the start this led to numerous advantages comprising flood control and growth of irrigation with augmented food grains production, changing the nation from food shortage to food surplus in the seventies. But flow irrigation is not apt for every territory. Gradually perils of extensive water logging, and soil salinisation commenced, resulting in gradual decline in soil fertility. Surface water reservoirs as well as the canal structures; too remain susceptible to uncertain precipitation. Big stretches, comprising over 60 percent of the cultivable regions in the nation are still fed by rain and rely on groundwater. With a burgeoning populace the demands for water are constantly on the rise. The ecstasy over the green revolution has diminished with stagnating food grains output. Ever since the terrible drought of 1967, the significance of groundwater as a tool to cope up with drought has gained thrust. It has been acknowledged that integrated management of surface water, groundwater as well as soil together with apt choice of yield is the greatest means to wipe out water shortage. Fresh studies have been revealing new development in water management which may be summarized as follows:

1.Conjunctive utilization of surface water together with groundwater augmentation for total obtainable water resources for utilization, guarantying best possible exploitation of water and its superior management.

2.Artificial recharge or rainwater garnering – a method of expanding groundwater supplies making use of surface overflow, which surges to the oceans if not utilized.

Conjunctive Use Conjunctive use or integrated use of surface water and groundwater is the most proficient technique of water management, which permits most favorable utilization of the total obtainable water supplies, getting rid in the procedure the unfavorable effect on ecology and environment because of use of these sources in segregation. It offers supplemental irrigation at periods of water strain or drought, corrects accumulation of water in head reaches and water scarcity in tail end regions of the canal network, augments irrigation power, allows numerous cropping, augments agricultural output, together with drinking water accessibility, gets the most out of yields per unit volume of water utilized.

Artificial Recharge and Rainwater Harvesting Artificial recharge is a technique to augment natural recharge rate by various set-ups, preventing runoff, extending penetration time, augmenting contact with the penetrating surface, thus paving the way for groundwater accumulation, refilling the exhausted aquifiers or forming subsurface storage under encouraging hydrogeological circumstances, which can be utilized at times of requirement. The vital aspects are accessibility to subsurface storage space and excess runoff, encouraging geomorphic and hydrogeological system, penetration traits of soils, hydraulic conductivity and replacement ability of the geological structures. It comprises garnering or accumulating rainwater during monsoon, and collecting the same in artificial man-made reservoirs, or in natural reservoirs (aquifers). Therefore water harvesting is attained in three diverse techniques:

1.In situ rainwater harvesting: tanks, kunds, nadi, ponds, rooftop collection of water. 2.Artificial recharge: percolation tanks check dams, groundwater dams, injection wells etc. 3.Indirect augmentation of groundwater through soil conservation practices, afforestation, gully plugging, contour bunding, contour trenching, terracing etc.

These water harvesting networks or techniques may be designed and put into service as component of integrated watershed expansion and management. It favours the technique of situ use of obtainable monsoon overflow spread all through the watershed. Creation of apt structures at hydrogeologically suitable sites may successfully save excess monsoon runoff, cause groundwater recharge, as well as lessen soil erosion and deluge. These recharge arrangements and practices are uncomplicated, gainful, with no unique talent or great spending needed, and the materials required are obtainable in the neighborhood.

Community participation in rainwater harvesting Community managed integrated watershed development has turned out to be a vital progress in water management in the nation. Arvari river basin in Alwar district of Rajasthan, is a glorious case in point of community propelled decentralized water management utilizing local awareness of rainwater harvesting. Under the guidance of Tarun Bharat Sangh the conventional rainwater harvesting systems like johads, ponds etc have been rejuvenated and almost 8600 such water harvesting networks have been formed in Alwar district in Rajasthan with the people taking part. The dead river Arvari was revived with recurrent flows because of discharge from groundwater after creation of johads and watershed treatment in the river’s catchments. The villages within the watershed are currently enjoying thriving agricultural as well as economic activities. Even after 2-3 successive droughts, there is no lack of water in this arid desert land. Accessibility to water has revitalized ecology as well as environment. The villages in the valley have created their own structure of water control. Arvari is currently a milestone in the records of water management in the nation.

Conclusions Almost 4 lakh habitations in the nation consisting of 22 crores of people are still suffering for lack of good drinking water supplies. Though government reports assert nearly complete coverage of villages in the nation with secure water reserves, a significant number plunges back to no-source group annually, leaving a chronic balance of no-source villages. Approximately 220 million people belonging generally to the weaker segments, - minors, children as well as women, - many existing in the semi-arid as well as arid hard rock regions, are underfed without suitable intake of food. This requires critical techniques to bring in equity as well as sustainability in water reserves. Water management and expansion by means of rainwater harvesting, artificial recharge, and conjunctive utilization are the requirements of the contemporary times. Being components of the similar hydrological cycle, both surface water as well as groundwater should be expanded in combination with each other for optimization of the resources and with a view to prevent ecological adversity. The conventional awareness of water harvesting with contemporary scientific contribution is greatly appropriate in the hard rock terrains.

Almost 70 per cent of populace of the nation exists in rainfed regions. Land, water as well as soil management has turned out to be extremely competent technique for sustainable cultivation, food as well as drinking water protection. It is just by means of these enthusiastic contributions of the society and stakeholders that this common pool supply can be sustainably augmented and controlled.


Renowned Hydro geologist, Subhajyoti Das warns of water crises reaching alarming proportions in Bangalore

In an exclusive interview to Anjishnu Biswas, editor of exoticecho.com, Mr. Subhajyoti Das who visited the USA on UNDP Fellowship for training connected with “Integrated Use of all Water Resources” expresses his deep concern over the growing water crises plaguing Bangalore, referred to as the software hub of India. Mr. Subhajyoti Das, one of the eminent Hydro geologists of India has contributed significantly to groundwater research in the country by means of his revolutionary work and connected activities in groundwater studies. Mr. Das who visited the USA on UNDP Fellowship for training connected with “Integrated Use of all Water Resources”, in the Colorado State University (Fort Colins), US geological Survey (Tucson), American Water Foundation and Salt River Project (Phoenix) was also the Regional Director of the Central Ground Water Board of India. Mr. Das is currently the editor of a journal published by the Geological Society of India, Bangalore. In the interview to Anjishnu Biswas, the editor of exoticecho.com, Mr. Subhajyoti Das warns that if corrective steps are not taken Bangalore could witness problems of extraordinary nature in terms of non availability of water to the required extent. The following is an excerpt of the interview with Anjishnu Biswas.

Bangalore, the software hub of India, also referred to as silicon city, is a rapidly expanding territory with a populace of 8 million people and dotted with numerous multistoried buildings, housing and commercial complexes along with Malls and Multiplexes The IT boom has resulted in unparalleled commercial activities together with the need to keep the sector going . As a consequence the demand for the city’s water supply has augmented considerably. Water is a major component of the infrastructure of a city where varied forms of activities takes place. However Bangalore does not enjoy the privilege of having a perennial river in close proximity. The city has to rely chiefly on the waters of Cauvery River, transported from a distance of roughly 100 km and raised to a height of 500 m from the source. But in comparison to the water supply requirement of 1200 million litres per day (MLD), the water that the river Cauvery provides to the city is to the extent of only 870MLD, thereby leaving a difference of 330 MLD. Apart from this demand for water is the industrial necessity of nearly 60 MLD, thus, increasing the deficit further.

A considerable quantity of Cauvery water is also lost in transmission creating additional stress in the accessibility of water for consumption by the city dwellers. Following an upsurge in population growth, expansion of industries, as well as commercial activities, the difference between demand and supply by the year 2025, will be tough to fulfill. Rampant urbanization has created an adverse impact on a number of the surface water bodies, with much of the precipitation water lost as runoff with the resultant reduction in groundwater recharge and decrease in water supplies. This dwindling water supply has resulted in the city’s growing reliance on bore wells, of which there has been no appropriate evaluation so far, - 1.5 lakh to 3 lakhs by a number of assessments made so far. This has led to groundwater overexploitation, deepening of groundwater levels, jeopardizing the ecosystem in the process. This problem becomes severe every summer as reservoir levels are at the lowest. This affects the water supply, and growing stress on groundwater. Under these circumstances of dwindling water supply trade in commercial marketing of water is thriving. The burden of the suffering is endured by the low income group or the deprived as they are compelled to pay a number of times extra on water tankers than their wealthy counterparts, who live in luxurious apartments or buildings, furnished with safe BWSSB water supplies at subsidized charges.

Till the first half of the 20th century Bangalore did not encounter any water shortage with numerous flowing lakes and stream around the city furnishing continuous supplies of water to the city. Currently the city’s water supply network encounters two-pronged difficulty of dwindling surface water resource because of drying up of lakes and reducing ground water because of excessive utilization. To discover an enduring solution to the water shortage, the origin of water crisis has to be comprehended in the correct angle. Mr. Das backs the refurbishment of waste land and lakes, rainwater harvesting, and water conservation actions to cope up with the dual crisis of surface water and groundwater.

Dr. Das points to the exercise of water conservation as the only crucial answer to the uncontrolled water crisis. He envisages retrieving considerable amount of water by means of domestic level wastewater treatment and recycling as well as recovery of enormous transmission wastes through suitable actions.


Dr Pradip Sikdar: Need to safeguard Kolkata wetlands to avert groundwater catastrophe in metropolis

(In an exclusive interview to Anjishnu Biswas, editor of exoticecho.com, Dr Pradip Sikdar noted hydro geologist explains the significance of the wetlands of Kolkata and the need to safeguard them to prevent ground water contamination and maintaining the ecological balance of “The City of Joy”.)

Kolkata November 30: Wetlands can be termed as transitional lands between terrestrial and aquatic system where the level of water is present at the surface or near it. According to RAMSAR Convention 1971 wetlands have been defined as regions consisting of marsh, fen, peat land or water, natural or artificial in form, temporarily or permanent in nature that can be static or brackish. This also comprises areas of marine water the depth of which does not exceed six meters.

Wetlands play a crucial role in sustaining an environment that is benign and helps in providing a healthy atmosphere for human beings. Wetlands are vital resources that offer eco-system services while at the same time regulate ecological activities that occur naturally. These include water storage, ground water recharge and discharge, flood control and river regulation, water purification as well as sediment retention. Wetlands are significant in terms of provisioning services that entail water supply both for humans and non human beings like birds and animals. Provisioning services of wetlands also include acting as resources for activities related to fisheries, agriculture, forage, craft materials and growth of medicinal plants. The cultural services that the wetlands offer come in the form of augmenting bio-diversity besides acting as cultural sites.

Wetlands act as a sink that absorbs Carbon Dioxide thereby reducing environmental pollution. They also absorb water and thus prevent flooding catastrophes in surrounding regions.

On 19th August 2002, East Kolkata wetlands were declared as RAMSAR site.

East Kolkata Wetlands is spread over an area of 12,500 hectares consisting of 45.93 percent of water bodies and 38.92 percent of agricultural terrain with the remaining area being occupied by urban and rural settlements, furthermore acting as garbage disposal sites.

Speaking exclusively to exoticecho.com Dr. Pradip Sikdar, professor of environmental management at the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management noted that East Kolkata wetlands are of great significance in terms of maintaining the ecological balance of nature in and around Kolkata. He observed with caution that lax measures to safeguard these vital water bodies could augment the environmental problems already being faced by Kolkata in the form of abnormal weather temperatures recorded in both summer and winter coupled with odd rainfall conditions witnessed in the rainy seasons. Dr Sikdar observed that the existence of these water bodies offered a natural water treatment resource to the city of Kolkata by collecting 800,000 metre cube of water flowing out of the city everyday and subsequently treating it naturally. Expressing his concern about the way in which large stretches of the East Kolkata wetlands have been converted to fallow land, settlements, waste disposal ground and canals between 1965 to 1998, Dr Sikdar warned that attempts were covertly being made to convert parts of these crucial East Kolkata wetlands to enable human settlements to flourish. In this connection he referred to the alarming rise in rampant construction of high rises along the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass of the city, resulting in the destruction of several water bodies in the region. The alteration to the wetlands all through 1965 to 1998 and purportedly beyond the period which has remained unnoticed have resulted in massive exploitation of ground water for drinking, agricultural as well as industrial purposes in the absence of any other alternative source of water. Consequentially there has been a remarkable fall in the ground water level of the affected regions. This has also enhanced the risk of ground water being contaminated.

According to Dr Sikdar the setting up of the leather technology complex on the eastern fringes of the East Kolkata Wetlands in Kolkata have led to the exploitation of large quantities of groundwater for coping up with the activities connected with the procedure of manufacturing leather goods. The current massive utilization of ground water posed a serious threat to the flow pattern of ground water enhancing the threat of pollutants from solid waste disposal grounds in the East Kolkata Wetlands travelling long distances and contaminating the ground water in the zones where the screens of the pumping wells that extract water for human consumption are located. As a result the deep tube wells that extract water for domestic utilisation in Kolkata as well as the adjoining regions may pump out water containing toxic metals and metalloid like copper, nickel, cadmium, lead, chromium and arsenic.

Dr Sikdar clarified that several areas of the East Kolkata Wetlands do not have the top confining layer of clay but consisted of sand that occurred at the top, making these areas vulnerable to ground water contamination through poisonous metals at a more rapid pace.

Dr Sikdar observed that in a bid to lessen the risk of pollution in the aquifers that existed in Kolkata and adjoining regions efforts should be undertaken to minimize interaction between wetland water and ground water. This can be achieved by regulating deep tube well operation time, making available treated water supply system and adopting measures to harvest rain water. Artificially recharging the aquifers by means of harvested rainwater is also vital for safeguarding the ground water level from decreasing alarmingly.

Dr Sikdar warned of the prospective threat to the ecological system of the city if exploitation of groundwater for human consumption and activities linked to the construction of dwelling units continued unabated in the upcoming township of Rajarhat as well as in areas located along the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass of the city.



Environment Minister Stresses on the Need to Safeguard Tigers

April 2: Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday cautioned that if adequate measures were not adopted tigers would no longer exist at the 18 sanctuaries which acted as protective areas for the animals in the nation. He warned that a condition similar to Panna as well as Sariska areas meant for the preservation of the endangered animals from where tigers vanished, could take place at 18 tiger sanctuaries all over the nation if they were not safeguarded in a right way. He made this observation while addressing newspersons in the aftermath of the seventh convocation function at the Indian Institute of Forest Management in Bhopal.

He revealed that there were 39 Project Tigers Reserves in the nation and amongst them, the situation of only nine was fine, 12 required enhancement and 18 were in a poor condition. Both Panna as well as Sariska drew a great deal of attention after tigers could not be traced at the sanctuary. Ramesh warned that there was definitely a plot by those connected with mining and poaching activities to slaughter tigers with the view to get the land denotified so that they could alter it for real estate development or utilize it for mining. When the minister was questioned to pinpoint several of these reserves, he revealed that apart from Panna in Madhya Pradesh such a danger also prevailed in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh as well as Maharashtra along with several other protected areas for tigers.


UN World Water Day to Emphasize on Clean drinking water

March 22: With the objective of enhancing the awareness of the people about the valuable role that water plays in the daily lives of the populace and to thwart the wastage of nature’s valuable element that sustains life on earth, the United Nations has chosen March 22 as the world water day. This is a major attempt by the United Nations to emphasize on the significance of fresh water and the need for competently utilizing available water resources. The topic which has been chosen this year is 'Clean Water for Healthy World. The overall quantity of water on the globe is approximately 1.4 billion cubic kiloliters.

Nonetheless, just less than one per cent of the fresh water obtainable in the globe is readily available for human consumption. Over one billion people in the world at present not able to obtain clean water. A number of functions are being been organized all over India to observe the day.



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