Jaldoot App: A report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) suggests that over 33% of the wells research have registered a decline in ground water levels in a range of 0-2 meters. Further, more than 4 meters of depletion has been seen in different parts of metropolitan cities. A 2019 report of the Central Water Commission stated that two-third (65%) of the water reservoirs were running dry and 12% were reported completely dry in India. The unavailability of tap water and mindless harnessing of groundwater has created a grim situation of drinking water in India.
A city located in Latur, Marathawadwa reported over 90% depletion of water resources, which resulted in countless health problems in the region. The rain shadow region of Bundelkhand is struggling with the same problem. The absence of scientific research and associated government policies resulted in mindless harnessing of water. For example, implementation of the green revolution in water deficit Punjab, Haryana and western UP in the 1960s forced people to harness mindless groundwaters. Cataylising through electricity subsidies, farmers irrigated water intensive crops like paddy in the water deficit region. Further, the problem magnified due to the absence of proper tab water connections in all over the country. So, to deal with the overall water crisis, the government has come up with various technologically attached solutions.
Jaldoot App to capture data on ground water tables
In a series of such measures, the central government has developed a “JALDOOT App” to capture the water level of selected wells in a village. Developed with a joint effort of the Union Ministry of Rural Development and the Panchayati Raj Ministry to monitor the underground water level across the country.
The Ministry apprising about the same said that the Jaldoot app will enable Gram Rojgar Sahayak (GRS) to measure water level of selected wells twice a year in pre-monsson and post-monsson time. In every village, an adequate number of measurement locations shall be selected and according to such data the ground water level of that village will be analysed.
“The app (Jaldoot App) will facilitate panchayats with robust data, which can be further used for better planning of works. The ground water data could be utilised as part of the Gram Panchayat Development (GPDP) and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) planning exercises. Further, the data can also be used for different kinds of research and other purposes”, the press brief said.
The use of technology is important in understanding the gravity of the situation. The geo-spatial analysis of ground water level will give the more accurate data. Knowing water level situations in different villages would provide a comprehensive solution to the problem. It will not only help in creating water conservation plans but will also help in formalising the other policies. For example, authorities can create agricultural and crop policies according to water presence in the region. It will also prove to be instrumental in targeting the areas which are more prone to water crisis. The government can prioritize the water conservation plans according to available data.
Jal Shakti Mantralaya
For the first time in Indian polity, the central government formed a special ministry targeting the water problems in May 2019. The Ministry of Jal Shakti was created by merging the ministries of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Drinking Water and Sanitation. The plan was to develop an integrated water management system in India and synchornise all water related policies. Under the able leadership of Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the ministry has launched various water related transformative scheme.
For example, to improve water availability in the water stressed blocks of 256 districts in India, the government launched a Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Groundwater – 2020. The Master Plan envisaged to construct about 1.42 crore Rain Water Harvesting and Artificial Recharge Structure to harness over 185 billion Cubic Meter Water. Further, the government also launched Catch the Rain campaign to promote rainwater harvesting in the country.
The other schemes of the government include: –
- Jal Jeevan Mission (Rural)
- Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban)
- National Water Mission
- Atal Bhujal Yojana
Under the Jal Jeevan Mission, the government has thought to bring transformational changes in the water management. To provide Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) to every rural as well as urban household, the government has launched the Har Ghar Nal Se Jal (HGNSJ) scheme. It is in consonance with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal-6 (Clean Water and Sanitation).
Need to speed of the process
Due to the population blast and more than expected rate of change of climate, the water crisis is looming fast. The sudden change of weather and associated problems is attracting the water crisis. The untimely arrival of monsoon not only affects the cropping pattern but also creates over-pressure on ground water as people are forced to choose groundwater resources for irrigation purposes. Moreover, traditional agricultural schemes like Minimum Support Price (MSP) have incentivised farmers to cultivate water intensive crops. In these scenarios, it becomes imperative to bring organised, date based, effective policies to deal with upcoming water problems.
The schemes like Groundwater Management and Regulation, National River Conservation Plan, Reservoir Management, Irrigation Census, Surface Minor Irrigation, Command Area Development and Water Management, Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programe and River Linking projects should be implemented in more effective ways. These all should be linked with technology like Jaldoot App. As the crisis is spread across the country, it would be wise to implement them in an integrated and coordinated manner. The UNICEF ‘Water Scarcity” report suggests that half of the world’s population could be living in areas facing water scarcity by as early as 2025. As we account for 17.7% of the world’s population, we are going to be worst affected by the water scarcity. Thus, Water is life and water conservation is the solution to fight this upcoming crisis.
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