On the occasion of a two-day workshop on ‘Construction and Desilting of Checkdams/ Water Harvesting Structures,’ Union Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water & Sanitation Chaudhary Birender Singh said that the States need to take advance steps to prepare for the monsoon of 2015 so that maximum water can be stored in those few months for the benefit of all. The workshop was being organized with the view to kick start the process of planning to increase water storage for monsoon 2015.
Singh said that water conservation and harvesting needs to be a mass peoples’ movement. All sections of the society are required to work in a co-ordinate manner to efficiently harvest water. Efficient and scientific water harvesting is the first step towards revolutionizing water use in the country. It is important to keep in mind that the planning needs to be done at a landscape level, where the requirements of the upper and lower reaches and all the sections including agriculturists and others are taken care of t o maintain equity and sustainability.
The Rural Development Minister said, very few countries in the world are blessed with abundant fresh water as ours. However there is acute shortage of water for irrigation and drinking purposes in many parts of the country. The scarcity of water is largely because of inefficient use, unequal distribution and lack of awareness in people. Over utilization has also caused deterioration in water quality.
As per the analysis of Ministry of Water Resources, the country has a potential of 3840 BCM (Billion cubic meter; 1BCM = 1 lakh crore liter) of rain water, out of which 48% is lost in surface runoff while only about 11% goes into ground water recharge . Besides, we are able to use only about 55% of our utilizable water. About 63% of our agriculture land is still dependent only on rainwater.
Water availability is the critical constraint in these areas and continues to drive poverty and low human development indices. Of the total water availability only about 300 BCM of water can be stored in the large dams of the country which is a small fraction of the total water availability. Building new reservoirs comes at a significant financial and environmental cost. Thus forms the value of having smaller but distributed structures for water storage which can increase the seasonal storage capacity of water in a meaningful manner. Land in many of these seasonal storage structures can be put to multiple use.
Singh said, we are aware of this challenge and therefore the government is implementing various programs in the rural development, drinking water and sanitation for better sourcing and use of water for domestic use, drinking and for agriculture. The Department of Land Resources is implementing Integrated Watershed Management Program since 2009. The main objectives of the IWMP are to restore the ecological balance by harnessing, conserving and developing degraded natural resources such as soil, vegetative cover and water. The outcomes are prevention of soil&n bsp;erosion, regeneration of natural vegetation, rain water harvesting and recharging of the ground water table. This enables multi-cropping and the introduction of diverse agro-based activities, which help to provide sustainable livelihoods to the people residing in the watershed area. Thus apart from soil conservation, the other main aim of the program is to improve surface and ground water availability through water recharge.
Social contribution is incomplete without Public Private Partnership (PPP) and involvement of corporate sector. I suggest that as we have an integrated approach to implement the strategy of improving the capacity of water harvesting structures by involving corporates, civic societies, NGOs along with Government in general facilitative role. Such an approach will be necessary for overall success of this program, the Minister of Rural Development Chaudhary Birender Singh said.
The Secretary, Department of Land Resources, MoRD, Vandana Kumari Jena, the Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and sanitation Vijaylaxmi Joshi were present on occasion.