All India Seminar in Guwahati
 

Recommendations :

DISCUSSION SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The World Water Day-2015 was celebrated with traditional fervor and enthusiasm in the Institution of Engineers (India), Assam State Centre, Guwahati on 22 March 2015. As usual, wonderful collective efforts of various State and Central government organizations were observed in the day-long celebrations that comprised of an Inauguration function, release of publications, awards ceremony and the Key Note Address. After this function, the Technical Session was held with presentation of papers from various experts and research fellows.

The following issues were highlighted in the interactions following the presentation of papers:

  1. Water is the most crucial resource of mankind that is facing maximum problems at different levels in different proportions, and that has indeed challenged our collective efforts towards sustainable development, because it has been globally accepted as the most critical factor for socio-economic development and healthy eco-system.

  2. The concept of sustainability or sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It describes a dynamic condition of very complex systems, particularly the biosphere of earth and the human socio-economic system.

  3. It is estimated that the present population of 730 Crore will increase to 900 Crore in 2030. Hence 40% of population will lose accessibility to water and will tend to live in water-stressed countries. Today, more than 1.7 million people live in river basins where depletion through use has exceeded the natural recharge.

  4. Added to this is “Climate change” which has raised tension further. Increase of global temperature is a matter of concern in two areas: (I) Rise in sea levels which may lead to coastal flooding (II) less rainfall, the frequency and length of draught leading to crop failure and industrial impediments.

  5. Himalayan glaciers mainly account for water sources in India. The country is threatened by water stress and the looming water insecurity because water resources are under increasing pressure due to changing climate pattern. The Himalayan region since last few decades seems to undergo changes due to change in land use (i.e. deforestation, rapid urbanization, diversified agricultural practices etc). Consequently, a serious environment problem is being witnessed particularly in Indo-Gangetic plains as different rivers such as Kosi, Ganga, Ghagra, Son, Indus and their tributaries are changing their courses.

  6. In India’s north-east, the water resources particularly the Brahmaputra river system is under threat because of tempering of the main source (Yarlung Zangpo) in Tibet region. Construction of hydraulic structures in the upstream will lead to massive moving braided System and impact on the bio-diversity in complete disobedience of riparian rights at the downstream.

Recommendations

  1. One of the most important human rights is to access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene; which is now the crux of the ongoing Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan. For that matter, urban and rural populations are to be provided with potable water and an amount of awareness as to the economic use of water.

  2. For equitable distribution of this important resource, efforts should be made to consider the interlinking of rivers after proper water balance study at the national level.

  3. To combat the impact of climate change, the following measures were suggested:

    • Coastal afforestation with community participation backed up by proper monitoring to reduce climate change hazards.

    • Effective institutional arrangements to foster consistent coordination and communication on climate change at sea as well as regional level.

    • A holistic agro-based planning to be integrated with other aspects to suit climate change.

  4. To ensure food security for the growing population, the vital input of agriculture, i.e., the pattern of irrigation should be changed to improve the water use so that short duration crop with minimum application of water without compromising the productivity could be developed.

  5. Due to climate change causing global warming, biodiversity is badly affected. Therefore measures are to be taken as narrated below:

    • To increase biodiversity in agriculture and fisheries and to promote protection and preservation of wetlands including the Ramsar sites.

    • To redefine the forest lands and promote reforestation and afforestation in forest areas with the help of nature loving agencies under supervision and monitoring of the respective State Govts.

    • Apart from forest land, plantation should be encouraged in non-forest households, urban areas, barren land, fallow land, by the side of highways, etc.

  6. North-east is the power house of the nation. As big drainages (the Brahmaputra and the Barak) with their network of river system have interstate ramifications, a common approach to develop the water resources should be made. While opposing devices of water resource development or disputing over sharing of the benefits between the States, the neighbouring countries will tap water at upstream resulting in hydrological disaster at the downstream.

  7. Irrigation system in north east being very insignificant, small viable schemes should be developed to increase agro-horticultural products which will bring economic benefit to vast multitude of rural masses.

  8. Many parts of north-eastern states, particularly Assam, are affected/polluted by arsenic, fluoride etc. Proper identification of areas is to be made and use of ground water for drinking as well as irrigation purpose to be banned and instead, arrangement for use of surface water for drinking (after treatment) and irrigation, should be encouraged.

In Assam, there is need for development of vast char areas to the tune of 3.60 Lakh hectares. Proper planning of these areas taking as hydrological units should be made. These areas with plantation, agricultural practice, health care etc will fetch economic prosperity to the state.


 

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