The geostrategists and international relations experts say, if there will be Third World War, it would be not for the economic reasons, but with all possibilities, it would be for the control of water resources – drinking or otherwise.
In India, in particular, agricultural production plays a vital role and in case of rain shortage or drought like situation, due to non-availability of sufficient water for farming, the situation transform from bad to worse. India has experienced drought-like situation several times in different parts of the country causing much distress particularly for rural population. In recent days also, some parts of the Maharashtra and some areas of other States are facing the optimum water crisis. Therefore, the necessity of having a wide-spread programme of water conservation and to avoid water conflict in inter-country and intra-country relations is not merely a slogan but a practical strategy for the future.
Mr Brahma Chhellaney, a geostrategist and author in a recent article stated that policy makers particularly in Asia need to act quickly to avoid water conflicts as Asia is increasingly prone to the ravages of drought. The drought offers a telling preview of the hotter and drier future… a drought- laden future will increase risk of water related conflicts. Therefore, the policy makers should give utmost attention in this regard and country like India demands an integrated holistic approach.
Against this back ground, it is a welcome measure that Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has launched Jal Kranti Abhiyan (JKA) in June 2015 across the nation to preserve the precious water, (which is not just the undervalued resource in the coming years but it is likely to be the most contested resource in India) when it is in abundance, so that at the time of water scarcity, we could be able to cope with the situation. The initiative under the foresighted leadership of Narendra Modi government through the Ministry of Water Resources is an initiative in order to consolidate water conservation and management through a holistic and integrated approach in which all stakeholders are involved and with an object to make it a mass movement.
The JKA is to include use of modern techniques with traditional wisdom for increasing water security; encouraging conjunctive use of surface and ground water; creation of additional facilities for water conservation through construction of water harvesting structures; wide spread programme for rain-water harvesting and to motivate the villagers for the participation in the water related schemes and cost sharing by the community to in still a sense of belongingness and accountability.
Activities proposed under JKA are Jal Gram Yojana (JGY); Development of Modern Command Area; Pollution Abatement; Massive Awareness Programme along with other related activities. Under the JKA, JGY is very important component along with Development of Model Command Area. The Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) has identified 1027 villages (Jal Grams) out of total target of 1348. In this regard, administrative initiative has already been taken and national level Advisory and Monitoring Committee has been constituted as also state level committees. A programme has also been chalked out in regard to one day Workshop-cum-Training Programme to be conducted in the various locations of the country.
A comprehensive integrated development plan for each Jal Gram shall be made by the Block Level Committee on the basis of available data regarding sources, availability and quantity of water in the village as well as the project requirements. The committee will also formulate and integrated development plan for providing water in required quantity in a sustainable manner.
Under the Jal Gram Yojana, local stakeholders particularly farmers and Water Users Associations will be encouraged to provide suggestions towards the possible solutions to the problem being faced by them. The plan once approved by the District Level Committee, will be the basis for the formulation for the individual schemes by the concerned departments. The representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture, Drinking and Sanitation, Urban and Rural Development, New and Renewable Energy, Health and Family Welfare, Panchayati Raj etc. would also associate at both District and Block levels for selection and planning.
The geostrategists also suggested that water, food and energy must be managed by the policy makers jointly as the spectre of water losses is not just one reason for the water scarcity or drought related challenges. Several other activities have also been proposed under Jal Gram Yojana such as repair, renovation and restoration of existing and abandoned water bodies, reservoir tanks, ponds etc along with its distribution system, rain-water harvesting and artificial recharge of ground water, recycling of waste water, mass awareness programme for active participation have also been included.
The performance evaluation of work will be taken up by the District Level Committee on its completion. The situation of the water problem will be reviewed with respect to the base line information collected and if necessary, corrective marginal modification work will be taken up.
The Jal Kranti Abhiyan is to identify Model Command Area (MCA) of about 1000 hectare in a State and it should be represented by the different parts of the country from North to South, West to East and North-East. A necessary consideration to select the MCA is existing or ongoing irrigation projects in the state where fund for development is available for various schemes. Broadly, the following activities are supposed to be undertaken for development of MCA. They are Water Conservation; Installation of Solar Power Panels; Use of Primary Treated Water for Irrigation; Use of Ground Water along with Artificial Recharge of Ground Water etc.
The Jal Kranti Abhiyan in its Pollution Abatement Programme will focus on water conservation and artificial recharge which could be achieved through hundreds of training programmes in the over-exploited blocks in India where availability of water is limited and scarce. It will also take into consideration the ground water pollution abatement. Fluoride and Arsenic are two major pollutants of ground water in India and in this regard, training programmes will be organised right from the Block level. It will also give focus on dedicated programme for construction of Arsenic-free wells. The Jal Kranti Abhiyan will also give focus to recharge along the Ganga Flood Plain for River Rejuvenation.
One of the most significant parts of the Abhiyan is the programme of Mass Awareness Campaign design to address the problems and solutions to meet the requirements of the each segment of the society under the continuing scheme of information, education and communication through Radio, TV and other available media including social media. The Water Resources Ministry has planned different activities in this context such as creating and maintaining website; creating Facebook page and Twitter account; publishing Booklets, Posters and Pamphlets in different languages; holding essay competitions among children etc. The Jal Kranti Abhiyan will also encourage States to adopt State Water Policy in line with the National Water Policy 2012 and also will encourage setting up / strengthening Water Resources Council and State Water Regulatory Authority and other allied works.
The expenditure of the Jal Kranti Abhiyan will be met from the existing schemes of Central/State governments such as MGNREGA, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Yojana, Implementation of National Water Missions, Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Projects etc. and other related projects and schemes.
( Written By Sh Sukanta Chatterji. Author is Delhi based Journalist )