The Union Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) celebrated “Water Conservation Day” on the 19th of November 2012 to create awareness regarding depleting water resources and underlined its vision and commitment to be an active contributor to the sustainability of this very important natural resource. The field offices of various organizations under the administrative control of the Ministry held discussions, seminars and mass awareness programmes related to water conservation to spread the message on this occasion.
As a part of these, a consultation was organized by the National Water Development Agency, Ministry of Water Resources at CSMRS auditorium, New Delhi. The inaugural session was chaired by the Union Minister of Water Resources, Shri Harish Rawat while Shri Rajendra Singh, Tarun Bharat Sangh was the guest of honour. The consultation included technical presentations by the Central Water Commission, the Central Ground Water Board and Delhi Jal Board on the subject of water conservation. Non Government Organizations (NGOs) and Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) too presented their views on conservation of water.
Shri Dhruv Vijai Singh, Secretary (Water Resources), while addressing the gathering noted that for the survival of human beings and for the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem, conservation of water resources assumes significance. There is a need to conserve the resource in a judicious manner to be able to meet the increasing demand for water with fast growing population given the finite nature of its supply. He noted that we are water stressed according to WHO standards and have very low per capita availability. Further, because of the variation of rainfall in space and time, there is considerable variation in availability of water resources across regions and months in a year. He highlighted the various steps taken up by the Ministry like artificial recharge, rainwater harvesting and mass awareness programme for augmenting water resources.
The Union Water Resources Minister, Harish Rawat chaired the inaugural function. He said that water conservation is not a new mantra for us and that the mandate of the Ministry talks of augmentation as well as conservation of water resources. Speaking on the occasion he emphasized the need for concerted efforts for water conservation not only for the present but for the future generations. This is the need of the hour in view of the limited resources and growing demand for domestic, industrial and agricultural uses. There is a need to provide momentum to our conservation efforts.He highlighted the fact that water pollution was emerging as a potential health menace. Shri Rawat also advocated the need for cleaning of rivers and said that adequate attention has been given to this issue in the national river policy. He also stressed on the need to involve the representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions in the efforts on water conservation.
Shri Rajendra Singh, noted water conservation activist highlighted the importance of water and shared his experiences on river restoration. He stated that water conservation cannot be done in a day and that there was a need to develop a 10-20 year plan on this.
Shri B M Dhol, Member (Water), Delhi Jal Board in his talk focused on how Delhi is facing the problem of inadequate water due to growing urbanization and improvements in living standards. He stated that the city gets around 835 MGD now from various sources out of which 100 MGD is groundwater, the demand being around 1100 MGD. This demand supply gap widens during summer season.
The city is dependent on neighbouring states for its water and there are limitations to augmentation of water supply. He stressed the need for pricing of water, promotion of roof rainwater harvesting systems and recycling of wastewater. As of now, just seven per cent of the wastewater from the city is being recycled. A 45 MGD wastewater recycling plant is being set up in the city. Water auditing is very important to ensure the equitable distribution of water, he said. He also discussed about the pilot projects on water privatization being taken up in three zones of Delhi to shift from intermittent to continuous water supply. The need for household fixtures that help save water was also highlighted.
The technical presentations by CGWB and CWC aptly reflected the importance of water in relation to living beings and the concerns that need the attention of planners and stakeholders to discuss and debate and to find solutions to various problems being encountered in the water sector. Shri Ashish Banerjee, Deputy Director (Basin Planning), Central Water Commission focused on the twofold issue of resource conservation and conservation of use.
Shri S Bhattacharya, CGWB stated that in the recent past there has been a sharp increase in groundwater development in the country and there has been enormous withdrawal for various uses of agricultural, industrial and other domestic needs. The average stage of groundwater development in the country is sixty one per cent, he noted. This uncontrolled usage of groundwater has also created many problems owing to the rapid depletion of groundwater levels and availability of the resource. Groundwater quality too has become a victim. He highlighted that for maintaining the sustainability of groundwater resources, artificial recharge to groundwater is needed.
The meeting concluded with a play – “dharti ka neer haran” by a children group associated with FORCE, an NGO active in the field of water conservation.