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Experts for effective water management policies Monday, March 19, 2001
AHMEDABAD: In view of the fast depleting Sabarmati basin, water management experts have advocated harnessing all sources of water, recharging wells and acquifers, and judiciously using roof-top water tanks.
This was discussed at a seminar, 'A participatory approach in water management - a case study of Sabarmati basin' here on Sunday. The seminar was jointly organised by the Water Management Forum and Institution of Engineers (India).
Speaking at the occasion, the former secretary department of Irrigation and the former chairman of the high-power committee on Environment, BJ Vasoya said water, which was abundant in the region during 1950, has become scarce and was going to be the most costly commodity in the year to come. Considering the present scenario, he said it was essential to plan moves in advance and adopt effective water management policies to counter the situation.
Making a presentation during the occasion, VISAT, a non-governmental organisation studying the status of ground water in the Sabarmati Basin, said the present status of basin needs to be identified and an effective distribution plan requires to be implemented taking into consideration the socio-economic status of the various users. "The distribution needs to be planned by assessing the water requirements of various communities at different locations," said the VIKSAT director Srinivas Mudrakartha.
According to the agency, water demand was increasing through out the region due to increasing industrialisation, urbanisation and population which was causing a steady depletion of water in the area.
In addition, the government policy of subsidising power and well drilling resulted in increased access to the resource while reducing incentives for conservation.
The agency said policy incentives for groundwater development coupled with the spread of mechanised pumping technology have created an illusion of plenty by allowing people to use the groundwater resources which have accumulated in the basin over thousands of years in some cases.
Large-scale pollution of water has also lead to its scarcity in region. While the primary source of the pollution is agricultural chemicals sprayed during cultivation along the river bed, a large number of industrial affluent also renders the water of the basin unusable.
Also contamination by fly ash generated by thermal stations along the Sabarmati, washing and dyeing operations along the river bed also pollutes the available water to a large extent.
VISAT points out that given the diverse nature of physical problems across the Sabarmati bed, the solutions to water scarcity and the pollution problems will be different for different users. Further the effectiveness of any water and management solutions depends upon a range of physical, social, economic parameters, which again varies widely across the basin.
Stating that to achieve water management goals for the basin, proper understanding, co-operation and compromise on the part of each other was necessary, VIKSAT says decisions have to arrived at through consensus.
For this the agency says that the Sabarmati river bed need to be divided into three sub-basins for the basis for identifying the stakeholders - the users of the basin water.
"The overarching goal of the forum of different stakeholders and the concerned agencies would be equitable and sustainable development and management of water sources in the Sabarmati," says Mudrakartha.