21 May 2024 : Daily Answer Writing

Q1) ‘Vampiric overconsumption’ of fresh water resources is threatening the global water security. Discuss the reasons for crisis of availability and access to freshwater resources. Give two examples of traditional water harvesting systems that can help improve contemporary water management strategies.

 (250 Words/15 Marks)

IPCC 6th Assessment Report points towards a threat to global water security due to ‘vampiric overconsumption’. On a similar line, NITI Aayog’s Composite Water Management Index has also highlighted the rising water stress in India. The reasons for crisis of availability and access to freshwater resources:

  1. Anthropogenic factors:
  2. a) Population growth: Increased water demand for agriculture, industries, and domestic purposes. Also, distorted cropping pattern incentivized by MSP aggravate the problem.
  3. b) Fresh water bodies like lakes, urban wetlands, natural streams, etc., are disappearing due to unauthorized construction.

E.g., recent water crisis in Shimla and Bengaluru

  1. c) Lack of fresh water storage system and poor water productivity have made cities the ecological black hole of environment.

E.g., poor adoption of rain water harvesting techniques.

  1. d) Water Pollution: Untreated industrial effluents, sewage; certain religious practices, etc. leads to water contamination. This limits access to safe and clean water.

E.g., pollution in Ganga and Yamuna.

  1. e) Political reasons:
  2. Weaponization of water resources: Countries upstream on the river can control the flow of water as a way of asymmetric warfare against downstream countries.

E.g., China’s refusal to share hydrological data on Brahmaputra during Doklam stand-off.

  1. Lack of cooperation among stakeholders over allocation of water resources and settlement of disputes limits access.

E.g., Teesta River water dispute; Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal issue; Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu etc.

iii. Lack of Legal frameworks is a barrier in fair allocation of water resources.

E.g., India and China do not have a water treaty.

  1. Natural factors:
  2. a) Topography of a region influences the flow and distribution of freshwater resources. It is also difficult to develop infrastructure to improve water access in remote or inaccessible areas such as mountainous regions.
  3. b) Natural disasters: Floods and storm surges can disrupt water availability through increased salinity of riverine and groundwater due to increased turbidity and ingress of sea water.
  4. c) Climate change: Reduced precipitation, erratic weather patterns, and increased temperature can lead to scarcity of freshwater resources and exodus of climate refugees.

Traditional water harvesting systems can help improve contemporary water management strategies in following ways:

  1. Oorani:
  2. a) Ooranis in Tamilnadu are small ponds that collect water from rains and from surrounding catchment areas.
  3. b) This can be adopted at water stressed villages using funds from MGNREGS.
  4. c) A similar initiative at Ralegan Siddhi village in Maharashtra has turned it from ‘water scarce’ to ‘water surplus’.
  5. Baoli:
  6. a) Baolis exist in all shapes and sizes and are reservoirs built into the earth.
  7. b) Step wells: Groundwater is pulled up from a circular well at the bottom and rainwater is collected from above.

E.g., Agrasen Ki Baoli; Rani ki Vaav.

Sustainable vision is key to balancing current needs and future demands, and accelerating march towards achieving SDG 6.

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