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India … water issues and solutions. The holiest of rivers, Ganga.

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Presentation on theme: "India … water issues and solutions. The holiest of rivers, Ganga."— Presentation transcript:

1 India … water issues and solutions

2 The holiest of rivers, Ganga

3 Water conservation Traditions… Sacred groves – protected primary forest Watersheds have flowing streams and Springs almost all through the year

4 Water conservation Traditions… Village ponds and tanks

5 Today >>> Country background: India – rainfall and geography Issues: Agriculture, Industrial/domestic Solutions: Watershed (water retention capacity) restoration


7 In India, more than 70% annual rainfall occurs within three months (July-Sep). Most of it flows out to the sea – FAO Water at a glance



10 Western Ghats hill range, India. Seasonal rainfall influences vegetation

11 Waterlogging in cities – high rainfall + choked drainage + low infiltration

12 Now, droughts in the worlds wettest place, Cherrapunjee, Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, India






18 Causes: Deforestation -- rainwater runs off -- soil washed off -- less soil to hold water -- soil compaction and hardening due to exposure to sun and wind Climate change Population increase -- cement industry using limestone Dry season – by Jan and Feb – springs are drying up. People carry water up and down hills for long distances.

19 "There will be constant competition over water, between farming families and urban dwellers, between environmental conservationists and industrialists, between minorities living off natural resources and entrepreneurs seeking to commodify the resources base for commercial gain - UNICEF report on Indian water.

20 Water users in India -Agriculture ( ~ 85%) -Industry -Domestic -Ecosystem (?)

21 Agriculture ~ 90% of water usage

22 Rainfed agriculture – vagaries of climate, climate change Irrigated agriculture – groundwater depletion, salinization, soil micronutrient loss, large dams and their problems Solutions Water harvesting, soil regeneration, conservation, forest regeneration. Associated programs conserving crop genetic diversity Move towards local sufficiency in all resources

23 60-70% of Indias agriculture is rainfed. Western Ghats, Maharashtra, Western India

24 Pics from india train Rice in Assam, northeastern India

25 Rainfed areas suffer from Droughts if rains are late Or little


27 Manual irrigation – the age old way, bringing water from rivers via small Hand dug canals and water lifting structures

28 Diesel / electric pump based irrigation, huge increase from the late 1970s

29 Groundwater table from 1976 to 2008

30 Share of surface water and groundwater for agriculture

31 Politics and vote banks…resisting removal of free electricity, irrigation scams…

32 Transporting water in open canals for hundreds of kilometers – HIGH EVAPORATIVE LOSS – Salt content increases in irrigation water

33 Narmada Canal, bringing water from the diverted and damned Narmada river

34 Proposed Linkage of Rivers: contemplating a disaster for 3 decades Purported Benefits: Irrigation in arid zones Water supply for arid towns Costs Ecosystem disruption, flow Alterations, introductions of Exotics Saline water, evaporative loss Huge capital cost Sedimentation Human displacement Salinization of estuaries Loss of fish nurseries Seawater intrusion

35 Now the good news ! Many NGOs working with village communities, with funds from the government Programs, donor agencies and the communities themselves. Approach: 1. Community organization – awareness of problems, potential solutions and pathways, Government programs for village employment and income generation, Empowerment of women, education (school as well as hygiene/sanitation) 2. Watershed restoration – ridges and valley Ridge area treatment Drainage area treatment Earthen/masonry dams On-Farm interventions 3. Improved water sources for community

36 Watershed Restoration (contd.) Ridge Area Planting: If slope > 25% Land use: Natural vegetation only And native species Dig pits in dry season Plant in wet season Take care for the next 2-3 dry seasons

37 Watershed Restoration (contd.) Ridge Area Treatment: pits, trenches, bunds

38 Watershed Restoration (contd.) Drainage Line Treatment

39 Watershed Restoration (contd.) Topographic survey of watershed for small masonry dam and reservoir siting

40 Watershed Restoration (contd.): Earth/Masonry Dams

41 Watershed Restoration (contd.): On-farm interventions



44 The reservoir at Gavandvadi, Maharashtra, ten years after…


46 Urban zones have their own challenges Water supply – fixing leaks and pricing to inhibit pilferage Sanitation and wastewater treatment – curbs pollution Keeping drainage systems clean – reduces flooding and disease Water infrastructure management – prevents flash flooding



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