Water and Climate Change - Daily Current Affair Article for UPSC, IAS, Civil Services and State PCS Examinations

Water and Climate Change - Daily Current Affair Article for UPSC, IAS, Civil Services and State PCS Examinations

Context :-

World Water Day 2020, on 22 March, is about water and climate change – and how the two are inextricably linked.

UN-Water states that "adapting to the water effects of climate change will protect health and save lives". Also, using water more efficiently will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an additional focus on hand washing and hygiene.

Introduction of Report:-

  • World Water Day is an annual UN observance day (22 March) that highlights the importance of freshwater. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The theme of each day focuses on topics relevant to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), which is in line with the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6
  • The 2020 edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR 2020) entitled ‘Water and Climate Change’ aims at helping the water community to tackle the challenges of climate change and informing the climate change community about the opportunities that improved water management offers in terms of adaptation and mitigation.
  • The scientific evidence is clear: the climate is changing and will continue to change, affecting societies mainly through water. Climate change will affect the availability, quality and quantity of water for basic human needs, threatening the effective enjoyment of the human rights to water and sanitation for potentially billions of people.
  • The alteration of the water cycle will also pose risks for energy production, food security, human health, economic development and poverty reduction, thus seriously jeopardizing the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The 2020 United Nations World Water Development Report focuses on the challenges, opportunities and potential responses to climate change, in terms of adaptation, mitigation and improved resilience that can be addressed through improving water management.

About World Water Day

In the year 1992, March 22 was first officially added in the schedule 21 of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development as World Water Day in the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

  1. The celebrations to mark world water day started from the year 1993. The aim of the day is to increase awareness among people about the importance, need and conservation of water.
  2. The World Water Development Report is also released by the UN every year around World Water Day.

Situation of India’s Water Resource

Current Situation

  • Annual precipitation in India, including snowfall, which is the main source of water, is about 4000 bcm. About 53.3 per cent of the total precipitation is lost due to evapo-transpiration, which leaves a balance of 1869 bcm water in the country.
  • Of this, the available utilizable water resource potential is 1137 bcm, comprising 690 bcm of surface water and 447 bcm of ground water.
  • According to the Water and Related Statistics published by the Central Water Commission, per capita annual water availability in the country has decreased from 1816 cubic metres (cu m) in 2001 to 1544 cum in 2011.
  • As per the Falkenmark Index, one of the most commonly used measures of water scarcity, if
  • the amount of renewable water in a country is below 1,700 cu m per person per year, the country is said to be experiencing water stress; below 1000 cu m it is said to be experiencing water scarcity.
  • The National Commission for Integrated Water Resources Development (NCIWRD) has projected the total demand for water at 1,180 bcm for a high demand scenario.
  • Water resources are facing pressure due to population explosion, urbanization, rising demand for water from the agriculture, energy, and industry sectors, pollution, inefficient use, poor management and poor institutional mechanisms. Several regions experience water scarcity due to the uneven distribution of water resources over space and time.
  • The government has specific programmes for various aspects of water resources.
  • The scheme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), which is an umbrella scheme for irrigation has prioritized 99 major and medium irrigation projects for completion by December 2019.
  • The government also launched the “Namami Gange” scheme in 2014-15 to clean and rejuvenate the River Ganga to maintain “Aviral” and “Nirmal Dhara” and ensure its ecological and geological integrity. Data for the period 2015-17 indicates improvement in water quality in terms of dissolved oxygen and coliform bacteria. However, a lot needs to be done in terms of meeting the targets of sewage treatment plans (STP) and of controlling household and industrial waste. Besides, a scheme for groundwater development and management to prepare aquifer management plans and facilitate sustainable management of groundwater has been launched.

The challenges

  • The ever increasing dependence on ground water and its continuous excessive exploitation is reducing the ground water level and adversely affecting the quality of drinking water supply, which is a complex challenge.
  • Drying of water sources, rapid depletion of ground water table, recurrence of drought and deteriorating water management in different states are presenting different types of challenges.
  • Repairs of closed bore pumps, water supply pipelines are not being done on time due to which there is a pecial crisis in the area.
  • Due to the pressure of industrialization and urbanization, the sources of water have been destroyed. This worrying aspect was consistently ignored by various governments.
  • Fluoride, nitrate, pesticides, etc. were found to be present in more than acceptable limits in the ground water of most cities and about 19,000 villages. Water quality is challenging in this regard.
  • Studies sponsored by the World Bank and UNICEF show that not only is drinking water inadequate in rural India but its imbalance is widespread across the country.
  • Waterborne diseases are the biggest health challenge in India. According to official statistics published in the National Health Profile of India-2018, about one quarter or four cases reported in India are due to communicable diseases and one in every five deaths is due to waterborne diseases.
  • Water crisis has become a major problem in 30 countries of the world and in the next decade about two-thirds of the global population will face extreme water shortage. In real terms water crisis has become a major challenge in India.

Way Forward

1. On-going programmes

  • By 2022-23, the water storage capacity needs to be increased from the current level of 253 bcm to 304 bcm by completing on-going projects on time.
  • A coordination mechanism at the field level may be set up for PMKSY to find the reasons for delays in the completion of projects and corrective measures undertaken project wise to
    ensure speedy implementation.
  • The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) may draw up an action plan to complete CAD works in 317 identified projects to reduce the gap between the irrigation potential created and utilized.
  • Other notable programmes that need to be completed include the Ken-Betwa River linking project, the Pancheshwar project, the Rajasthan feeder and Sirhind feeders (Punjab &Rajasthan) and the Siang project in North-East India.
  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga needs to coordinate with the Ministry of Drinking Water, Supply and Sanitation for solid and liquid waste management in 1600 gram panchayats (covering 4464 villages situated on the banks of the Ganga in five states). Corrective measures need to be taken to expedite the completion of the projects.

2. Water efficiency

  • Incentivize the wider adoption of sprinkler and drip irrigation by diverting resources otherwise used to subsidize power and surface irrigation.
  • As per the fourth Minor Irrigation (MI) Census, there are about 5 lakh water bodies/tanks with an irrigation potential of 5.89 million ha. For these, the MoWR’s programme to revitalize, renovate and repair water bodies should be significantly expanded and adequately funded.
  • Special emphasis should be laid on desilting of water bodies, including river, lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

3. Recycle of waste water

  • With the country generating 140 bcm of wastewater annually, a pilot scheme to irrigate 10 lakh ha with treated waste water by 2020 may initially be taken up.
  • Industries should be encouraged to meet a major share of their demand through recycled water. Besides, programmes for smart water meters and tradable permits for use of recycled water may be launched.

4. Groundwater management

  • As on date, development of groundwater, i.e., utilization of groundwater resources vis-à-vis replenishable quantity, is 62 per cent. There is a need to develop recharging zones at identified places to make groundwater resources sustainable using check dam, farm ponds, tanks and injection wells.
  • Participatory aquifer management initiated in the 12th Plan National Aquifer Management (NAQUIM) under PMKSY should be strengthened through a network of partnerships to control unbridled, competitive extraction of groundwater since it is virtually impossible to police more than 30 million groundwater structures through licences and permits.
  • The participatory approach to encourage behavioural changes and community engagement in ground water management at the gram panchayat level as envisaged in the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) should be adopted and extended to other regions.
  • Promote the use of solar pumps to improve the utilisation of groundwater in Eastern India where utilisation is hampered by the lack of power. In Western India, solar pumps with a buyback guarantee for surplus solar power can offer reliable daytime energy for irrigation and stable cash income as well act as an incentive to conserve power and water.
  • PMKSY – Har Khet Ko Pani – envisaging enhancement of food production more than two-fold in 96 prioritized most ‘deprived irrigation districts’ in 12 states by creating 103 irrigation facilities through tube wells, dug wells, bore wells and dug-cum-bore wells, should be expedited. This will facilitate assured irrigation in tribal and backward areas that traditionally have been deprived of canal irrigation.
  • Special focus should be placed on the quality of rural drinking water supply in arsenic and fluoride affected areas by tapping multiple sources through conjunctive use of surface water, ground water and rain water harvesting. All new, piped water supply schemes should have mandatory provisions on operation and maintenance involving local communities and stakeholders.

5. Water harvesting

a. Watershed (check dam development)

  • The MoWR may develop specific strategies to tap water through watershed development (check dams) in rain-fed areas, expand micro irrigation coverage to 80 lakh ha, and link ground water development to aquifer mapping.
  • The timeline for watershed development projects needs to be shortened from seven to four years with special efforts by state governments. Funds available under MGNREGA and state plans may be used for watershed development projects.
  • Introduce public-private partnerships in the water sector, initially to develop microirrigation based CAD works based on a hybrid annuity model. This should be accompanied by a revision in water tariffs to recover at least operation and maintenance costs.

b. Rainwater harvesting

  • Model Building Bye Laws, 2016 circulated by Ministry of Urban Development includes the provision of rain water harvesting. Barring the states/UTs of Manipur, Sikkim, Mizoram and Lakshadweep, all states have incorporated the provision in their respective Building Bye Laws. It is suggested that the states ensure effective implementation of the rain water harvesting structures for buildings.

6. Suggested reforms

  • To mitigate conflicts and achieve equitable distribution of water, an integrated river basin management approach needs to be adopted. The setting up of river basin organisations for major basins may be expedited.
  • NITI Aayog has developed a concept note on Revitalization of Rivers, which may be implemented on a pilot basis before being expanded across major states.
  • To ensure Aviral and Nirmal Dhara in the Ganga, the river should be managed as a single system.
  • There is need for a scheme on medium term measures for flood management. This should include completion of incomplete works in the states of Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Besides, long term measures for Bihar, UP and NE states should be explored to achieve permanent protection from floods. The formation of North East Water Management Authority (NEWMA) in North- East states will comprehensively address the flood issue in the region.
  • A water regulatory framework should be established for water resources in all states.
  • An action plan should be drawn up to improve water use efficiency (with 2017 as the base year) by 20 per cent in all sectors by 2022.
  • The composite water management index developed by NITI Aayog may be used as a potent tool to assess and further improve the efficiency of water resources management.

General Studies Paper- III

  • Environment and Ecology

Mains Question:-

  • Discuss the situation of water resource in India ? Are You agree that water and climate change are interdependable?

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