Friday, March 26, 2021

Water Management the key for Development

Water Management, the key for Development

For State like Gujarat, where rains vary from 2500-3000 mm over South Gujarat and 300-500 mm over Kutch, water management is very important. Sometimes the rains may be good but the rainy days are less making the season unfavourable. Therefore, we encounter scarcity or floods together in a season. There are approximately 10000+ villages and 150 cities/towns are dependent on Narmada Drinking Water Grid. Due to irrigation, the ground water level in some areas is going down. In coastal areas, there is impending risk of sea (saline) water intrusion. Due to ground water pumping from aquifers, migration of salt water from sea towards fresh water wells, makes the freshwater unusable. Before Narmada water reached Saurastra the problem of saline water intrusion was serious. As the population continues to grow, fresh water supplies underground are constantly being depleted, prevention of saltwater intrusion and increasing the importance of groundwater monitoring, management, and conservation are very important.

Maharaja of Vadodara State Sayajirao Gaekvad III was a great reformer had took many initiatives. One of them was water supply and conservation. He had solve not only the drinking water problem of Vadodara by bringing water of Ajava through gravity but also initiated works of rain water harvesting in the villages of his rule. Trenches were made in villages to direct the rainwater flow in one direction and then stored in a village pond to serve the water needs humans and animals till the next season. Many such Kings of Princely States took up water conservation and storage works and became immortal through their works. Post independence, the dams, check dams and Narmada Saradar Sarovar Yojana have changed the fate of Gujarat but water supply, water conservation and ground water management remained a key subject for the state.

Suffered of three consecutive drought years of 1985-87, in reactive response, people looked at the rain water which was running off and a movement of “native well recharging” was picked up in Saurastra. Spiritual leader Pandurang Athawaleji gave a boost to the movement by his motivational speeches “to give the water back to the earth which has been used exhaustively by the people”. Nirmal Neer movement boosted up the activities of recharging wells-tube wells-hand pumps, diverting rain water to existing ponds, construction of check dams, construction and renovation of ponds. Diverting the water to the well to save water into the wells was the short term goal but people now realised that the diverted water not only raised the water level in their wells but stopped the saline water intrusion.

Areas around Chorvad in Gir Somnath District is known as Lili Naghed. People in 80s were drinking brackish tea and were tired of milk coagulation while making the tea. But after 25 years of that native well recharging movement, they may be happiest farmers on earth, sitting on the roof top of the house, taking first sip of morning tea when they look around, and see the green cover over Mother Earth, aahaha....their hearts are filled with joy and ecstasy. In a Bigha of 1600 sqm, with the rain water and if need be with water sprinklers, they can encash production of 1000 kg groundnut (₹50,000). The coconut tree at the borders of the farm yield them income without much efforts. Buyers pay them ₹12/piece, and one branch of coconut may carry 30-42 tender coconut. One tree may earn ₹—-/annum. The sweet water table has raised so well and brackish water went down so that many times they have to give extra raw salt to the coconut trees. It’s a black lava soil takes away the negative energy from the body, and people therefore here are God fearing, pleasant and very famous for their hospitality.

Our beloved Prime Minister H’ble Shri Narendra Modi has written a letter to the Sarpanchs of the Villages on 8th June 2019 and appealed them to take up water storage and conservation works of palabandhi of farms, check dams, deepening of ponds, rainwater harvest, plantation of trees, etc. As CM of Gujarat, one of his successful Five Shakti Missions was ‘Jal Shakti’. He had completed Narmada Sardar Sarovar Dam and it’s Canal network, linked rivers and ponds with works of 332 kms long Sujalam Sufalam Spreading Canal Scheme traversing through seven districts diverting surplus flood water of Mahi and Narmada rivers to the deficit area. He He had launched SAUNI (Saurastra Narmada Avtaran Yojana), filling up 115 dams of drought prone Saurastra by diverting floodwaters of Narmada through a pipe lines network of 3 metre diameter. Now as PM he is aiming at ‘Nal se Jal’ (tap water) to all (India) by 2024. With Narmada Canal Network and one of the largest Narmada Drinking Water Supply Grid Network of approximately 2900 km long bulk water transmission lines (900mm to 2.75 metre diameter), and approximately 12,000 km long (3 times the circumference of earth) distribution pipeline (64mm 600mm) and plus the doorsteps distribution lines in villages and towns. Gujarat has already achieved 78% tap water connectivity during his time. It will happen ('मोदी है तो मुमकिन है') for India. It will improve the health and quality of life of all Indians.

H’ble CM of Gujarat Shri Vijaybhai Rupani has given top priority to water supply and water management subject, has strengthened and upscale the existing networks and has taken many positive decisions including mega projects of desalination plants. He has initiated Sujalam Sufalam Jal Abhiyan (SSJA) movement of deepening of village ponds last year and continued in current year. With one or two months efforts of the administration, the water storage capacity of the State has been improved by 2100 MCFT. Great going for Gujarat.

Save water. Conserve water. Harvest rainwater. Water is our life.

20 June 2019


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