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