Many environmentalists have pointed recurring droughts a man-made disaster. Towns, villages over large parts of the country are desperate for water. Many are dependent on periodic tanker supplies ferried across considerable distances. As summer advances communities may be compelled to migrate unless help comes their way.
Rainfall is often erratic unevenly distributed over space and time. Many regions regularly experience recurrent drought and/or flood part their normal hydrological cycle. Droughts like floors, and therefore, surprise can be mitigated, even averted, drought proofing and like floor must appropriately managed when it happens.
Population growth development aimed at enhancing the quality life entails larger water use subjecting India increasing seasonal regional water stress with deteriorating water quality being an aggravating factor. Water conservation time’s places, improved water management maintaining water quality are, therefore critical. These measures are not necessarily mutually exclusive and each has certain cost benefits. Objective should be to secure optimism. Sporadic rainwater harvesting, ground water recharge, sound water management by them can provide complete sufficient answer to India’s water needs is mistaken. Pursued panacea that obviates need large dams, could rob country of vital insurance against disaster.
It is wholly fallaciously argued if hundreds of large dams over 15 meters high have not averted the drought situation, hugely demonised Sardar Sarovar Project, instance will make difference? Simple answer that the hundreds of large dam storages on local rain-fed rivers and smaller conservations work traditional systems must fail if rain fails. Deserted villages are mute testimony to the truth.
Sufficient rain must first fall before harvested, in situ, and in North Gujarat, Saurashtra, Kutch suffer aridity. But the Narmada rises over 1300 kilometers away in a relatively high rainfall region. If it’s abundant flood waters are stored, these can be diverted into terminal Sardar Sarovar dam. Gujarat’s allotted 9 million acres feet of water- even half quantum would have averted much present distress had dam height reached 110 meters when canals would begin flow to generate energy. The distribution system far advanced would have guaranteed drinking water, livelihood to millions. It would have recharged groundwater filled hundreds village ponds depression en route.
But the opponents of big dams have different views about Sardar Sarovar Project. According to them, even the Sardar Sarovar Project, had been completed, only 1.6%- 9.24% total cultivated lands drought affected Kutch, Saurashtra would have benefited. Even before it could have possibly reached these regions, sugar factories, water schemes metros water marketing for industries would have gobbled up water.
So, dams are not an absolute solution. But a dangerous mantra, small is beautiful, big bad, two go together. What would North West India, indeed of India, minus Bhakra-Pong? The country has huge task ahead to manage its water resources sensibly, optimally, equitably. What the nation must answer unitedly without losing more time in futile, wholly unproductive arguments. The present drought is both a crisis and an opportunity.