(Dr. krishan Bir Chaudhary)
Nature checks and balances itself but it will be utterly fallacious to base upon nature for solutions to problems created by man. The present water scenario is no better and the future is menacingly bleak, dreadfully fraught with a water famine like situation and a potent design by a few to monopolise and control this most vital life support factor. Water crisis needs immediate remedial action. Only skillful, stringent and scientific management can ensure it’s judicious availability for all the essentialities of life.
The ongoing water disputes between States and lack of awakening & urgency on the part of the Govt. to co-ordinate efforts and work out a comprehensive futuristic plan to tackle water problem is really saddening. Worse, despite huge investment spread over five decades, there is no tangible solution in sight nor the Govt. has a vision even today to control flood and drought.
India’s landspread and topography are naturally so formed and contoured that floods or for that matter drought should not have been a recurring phenomena. But we have been facing the trauma not because of lack of fund, skilled manpower and right infrastructure but because of planned mismanagement, otherwise how else the enormous fund doled out over years for relief operations could have gone to inflate the coffers of all those who mattered. Flood and drought have become their beloved ‘Kamdhenu’.
A totally outlandish approach to measure the achievent in terms of investment made is the root cause of the problem. Who does not know that denudation caused by floods leaches the soil of its fertility potency? Crores have gone down the drain but one does not know the fate of Sonia Vihar Project and the much ambitious clean Ganga and Yamuna projects. The water problem is there because a truly perceptible ‘National Water Policy’ is yet to be formulated and stringently implemented.
Fortunately, the Himalayan glacier comes handy in recharging Ganga, Yamuna basins and the rivers of Punjab. But large scale deforestation south of the Vindhya range and further down the Deccan belt has created havoc with the geo-ecological phenomena of the entire range so vital for farm culture and induction of monsoon. What we see today is a totally barren landscape than what it used to be 100 years back with vast and endless stretch of vegetation and greenery.
Even after the rains, water cascading down the hills always remained sufficiently available to sustain the flora and fauna of the area. But large scale deforestation of natural rain forest and reclaimation of vegetation bared the mountains. Haphazard urbanisation not only caused soil erosion, extinction and depletion of various rare herbs and plants but destroyed the natural habitation of India’s already vanishing animal wealth. We are at our wits end to find the obsession of our neo-environmentalists and phytologists with obnoxious Acasia varieties planted in abundence accross the country as part of forestation drive.
Instead plantation of Ficus varieties, Neem, Mahogany, Hybrid varieties of Hibiscus, Palas, Gulchin, Gulmohar, Kachnar, Amaltas and various other such plants would have been much better for the environment as well as beautification point of view. As things stand, some fine morning the Govt. may find fancy in importing consultancy for plantation of trees too. Faulty forestation programme is much to blame for scanty or erratic rainfall and failure of monsoon.
Beyond Jhansi, miles and miles of landspread looks dry and drab. Rivers of ‘Khandesh’ of Vidarbha region once famous internationally for it’s Banana crop now remain dry even in winter. As reported, Akola and Hyderabad cities are getting water at eight and four days intervals respectively. Forest cover is simply 11-12% and not 20% as the Govt. claims. However, the Govt. aims to raise the forest cover by 33% but it all rests in the future.
Water being the most essential life support factor and equally important for the agro-ecological system, can’t be produced or synthesized artificially. Therefore, the National Water Policy for being truly affective must concentrate on preservation and conservation of water, rain water harvesting, recharge of rivers, other water bodies and stringently deal with misuse and abuse of water.
It is really sad that there is little awareness as regards water pollution and contamination. It amounts to criminal negligence that nothing tangible is being done to free our water resources from physical and chemical contamination, impurities caused through human activities, disease causing microbes and pathogens and radio active polluters.
(Editorial : Farmers' Forum Magazine)