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Inhumanly Mismanaged

In India, from the 19th century onward, the paradigm of managing water has followed two interconnected routes.

One, the state took upon itself the role of sole provider of water. (It was the colonial state that centralized control over water resources. The post-independent state inherited this role, and continued with it.) Among other things, this led to communities and households being no longer the primary agents of water provision and management.

Two, the earlier use of rainwater and floodwater declined. In its place, there came a growing reliance on surface water (primarily rivers) and groundwater.

Today, the effects of this way of managing water are clearly visible:

  • There is complete dependence on the state for any kind of water provision. It is a kind of fostered parasitism since the state, via its bureaucratic machinery, does not seem to possess the will to alter such a situation.
  • Such has been the level of extraction from rivers that most of India's river basins have degraded and the rivers are polluted.
  • Large dams are the major source of water storage, and canals are the major distributory route. The former have caused large-scale community displacement and ecological havoc. The latter, large-scale degradation of land via soil salinisation.
  • Groundwater resources have been heavily over-used.

Thus water availability, both in terms of quality and quantity, has declined to such an extent that many parts of India, rural and urban, today face a drought-like situation. And when drought actually sets in, as it did in Gujarat and other parts of the country most recently in the year 2000, scarcity takes on a frightening visage. An already bleak reality seems even more grim...

What if this bleak scenario is just a bad dream? Maybe, instead of hanging our heads, all we have to do is look up for the solution.

Find more about water harvesting systems

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