During the 2011 census, India has entered the league of water deficient nations. A nation is considered water deficient if the per capita availability falls below 1700 cubic meters per person. The per capita water availability that fell by 15% during the first decade of this century to 1545 cubic meters per person will be below 1400 cubic meters. The rate of depletion has reduced in the last few years, we are still consuming much more than are being replenished by nature and therein laid the danger. We will be leaving a troubled legacy for the next generation unless we take quick remedial actions to reverse the trend.
As per the Central Water Commission, 85.3% of the total water consumed was for agriculture in the year 2000. This is likely to decrease to 83.3% by 2025. India does not spend any money in conserving water consumed in agriculture. Surprisingly, water conservation takes place in the industry and utility sectors, both of which consume less than 5% of the nation’s water.
HOW TO CONSERVE WATER FOR AGRICULTURAL PURPOSES?
To reduce the water crisis in India, we need to change both our recycling as well as supply mode. Integrating recycling water into agriculture supply will solve two major problems.
75% of water pollution from domestic waste water is today discharged untreated into local water bodies and rivers. This amounts to around 40,000 million litres per day MLD from its 300 odd cities. Irrigation with waste water may cost less because of lower purification levels and also because crops serve as bio- filters and waste water contains nutrients. At the same time, the water must remove toxicity that is harmful.
Since last two decades, the Indian Government has been spending sizable amount of tax payers’ money each year in recycling the urban waste water. It has also been spending liberally on cleaning the Ganga as well as other rivers. Out of the 816 municipal sewage plants listed by CPCB in a December 2015 release, only 522 were operative. Even there, the quality of water at best confirms to Class C (fit for drinking only after treatment and disinfection). All the treated water could perhaps be eminently suitable for agriculture use if India developed the mechanism of supplying treated waste water to farmlands.
In comparison to lined irrigation canals, large diameter prefabricated concrete pipes are both cheaper and quicker to install. Besides the exit points are more controllable. It is not possible to put submersible pumps in piped water and that itself would save a lot of water and energy. Instead, more efficient solar powered drip irrigation kits could be developed and marketed across India, giving the farmer an option to use optimum water and energy for his crops.
There are ample numbers of methods which are fairly understood by the humans which can be employed in order to conserve the water for agricultural purposes but still I have highlighted the most important ones here:
1- Rainwater Harvesting.
2- Black Plastic and Organic Mulches.
3- Laser Levelling.
4- Drought-Tolerant Crops.
5- Rotational Grazing.
7- Chinampas or Floating Gardens.
8- Sub-surface irrigation etc.
If we want to save water for now and for our NextGEN, we need to take precautionary measures to save it and use it wisely.