India hesitate to harness excess water for irrigation

India
experiences an average precipitation of 1,170 millimeters (46 inches) per year,
or about 4,000 cubic kilometers (960 cu mi) of rains annually or about 1,720
cubic meters (61,000 cu ft) of fresh water per person every year. Some 80
percent of its area experiences rains of 750 millimeters (30 inches) or more a
year. However, this rain is not uniform in time or space. Most of the rain
occurs during its monsoon seasons (June to September), with the north east and
north receiving far more rain than India’s west and south. Other than rain, the
melting of ice in the Himalayas after winter season feeds the northern rivers
to varying degrees. The southern rivers, however experiences more flow
variability over the year. For the Himalayan basin, this leads to flooding in
some months and water scarcity in others. Despite extensive river system, safe
clean drinking water as well as irrigation water supplies for sustainable
agriculture is in shortage across India, in part because it has, harnessed a
small fraction of its available and recoverable surface water resources.

Water conservation is
an element of any strategy that focused on alleviation of water scarcity and
crisis of any region. In Indian context rainfall pattern is very uneven and
government has started to look at traditional systems of water harvesting in
the country. Human activities affect water quality as well as quantity by
changing land use and land cover. Agriculture is dominant sector of water
utilization and it contaminates the water by using excess chemical fertilizers
and pesticides. The other contaminants of water are disposal of untreated
sewage, disposal of industrial effluents without treatment and disuse of wells.
Water table is also decreasing due to overexploitation of ground water
aquifers.  Governments of some states are
also responsible for this because it provides free electricity to farmers for
irrigation; therefore farmers don’t hesitate to harness excess water for
irrigation through tube wells. More than 1.54 lakh habitations are affected
with high concentration of Arsenic, Fluoride, Salinity and Iron. Fluoride
contamination and excess arsenic affects 15 states of India (P.Durgaprasad,
2009). 

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