Water Management Reforms

  • In a normal year, the pre-monsoon phase from March 1 brings some respite and India gets about 130 mm of precipitation before the rainy season begins. This year began with a sharp 50% deficit, but touched near-normal levels, though not in the northwestern region.
  • The monsoon itself is highly variable. This underscores the need for comprehensive reforms at the level of States, with the Centre helping to conserve hydrological resources.
  • If Gujarat improves rural water storage structures and creates many small wetlands beyond the compulsions of politics, it can ensure long-term prosperity for thousands of villages in Saurashtra, Kutch and the northern region where pumps run dry with unfailing regularity.
  • Farmers will get relief from the monsoon vagaries that affect the Narmada, whose waters are apportioned among four States.
  • There is also the challenge of reducing demand for farming, given that the Mihir Shah Committee estimated public irrigation efficiency to be a low 35%.
  • Farmers need to be helped with the latest technologies to cut water use.
  • The State government is thinking of going in for desalination.
  • Decentralised water storage too will help cities like Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara when water supply from large dams and other sources dwindles.
  • If climate change is going to influence monsoon vigour and availability in coming years, the time to take action is now.


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