Need felt for master plan on water conservation

THE HINDU [18 JUNE, 2002]

  BHOPAL, JUNE 17. Experts attending the two day national workshop on "Ground water conservation and management with special reference to Madhya Pradesh", which began here On Sunday, have emphasised that the prevailing water crisis can be tackled only through concerted efforts, both at the Government and at people's level le, regulate the overexploitation of ground water.

In his keynote address, the former chairman of Central Ground Water Board, D.K. Chadha, linked the present water crisis to the immense increase in demand and overexploitation of ground water. He suggested that there should be a master plan for ground water conservation in Madhya Pradesh and codification of all 150 watersheds of the State.

There should be optimisation of water conservation structures, Dr. Chadha said and advocated the need for creating a system that could ensure free access to information on different aspects of ground water. Dr. Chadha said that regulation of ground water exploitation is as essential as its conservation Education and training of the persons associated with ground water conservation is also required for improving their under standing of ground water. He said that so much water is available be the country that it can meet the demand of almost onethird of the entire world population.

Dr Chadha said the annual replenishable ground water resources of the State have been estimated as 3.48 million hectare metres. Of this, 2.96 million hectare metres is available for irrigation. The level of ground water development in the State31 1998 was only 34.6 per cent Therefore there is enough ground water potential available f'or future true development, he said adding that the situation is not too alarming at this stage. However, there are certain areas where due to over exploitation of ground water, the levels are shrinking. Out of the 155 major watersheds identified in the State, 69 have recorded a declining trend of more than 0.1 metre per year and the maximum decline has been observed in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh, with Ratlam district showing a decline of 11 metres Mandsaur 7.5 meters and Neemuch metres during the last decade.

The Chief Minister, Digvijay Singh, in his inaugural address, stressed the need to improve interdepartmental coordination for making ground water conservation more effective. For this purpose, he announced that comprehensive plan for ground water conservation would be prepared.

The Deputy Chief Minister, Subahsh Yadav and subject experts from various part of the country and senior officer of the state government attended the workshop.

Addressing the delegates, the Chief Minister emphasised that simple and expensive techniques of ground water conservation should be developed. He said the maps prepared by the remote sensing techniques are drawn on the scale of 1:50000, too large for locating narrow aquifers and cavities. We need to overcome this problem by preparing maps on a better scale, he said adding that detailed field survey should be undertaken to gather data on geological strata of Madhya Pradesh, which would identify aquifers and cavities. The detail geo-hydrological maps would be of great helping locating sites of aquifers and points of recharge, he asserted.

Mr. Singh said that regulation of ground water exploitation is essential in plateaus. The issue to be decided is weather the regulation should be by the community or by the government. He said the Rajiv Gandhi Mission for Watershed Management and Pani Roko avhiyan(Save water campaign) have created a people's movement for water conservation in the state. There is now a need to forge organic links among the various government agencies and departments that are engaged in water conservation efforts, he added.

The Deputy Chief Minister Subash Yadav, said the prevailing water crisis is not a regional problem but has global dimensions. Efforts of ground water conservation should be part of an over all plan for the restoring balance in environment, he emphasised.

Mr. Yadav said Madhya Pradesh is at the fore front in the country in water conservation and activities. Under Pani Roko Abhiyan, over seven lakh water conservation structures were constructed last year, he pointed out.

The Principal Secretary Madhya Pradesh Water Resources Department, L.K. Joshi, threw light on the objectives of organising the workshop. He said the workshop would help creative a better understanding of new techniques of ground water conservation. Mr. Joshi pointed out that due to lack of knowledge and mismanagement, the ground water situation has become green in the Ninar and Malwa regions of Madhya Pradesh.