Jaipur, March 23, 2022
There is a need for an overarching regulatory framework for efficient water management in India, noted Gopal Krishna Agarwal, National Spokesperson, BJP, and co-author of the book, ‘Water an Element of Life: Price Sensitivity and Consumption by the Marginalised.’ He was speaking at a webinar organised by CUTS today to observe the World Water Day 2022, which falls on 22 March every year. The theme this year was ‘Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible.’
Agarwal also spoke about issues related to price sensitivity and consumption of water, equitable access, doctrine of public trusteeship, and pointed out that water should be provided as a public good to all sections of the society.
In his opening remarks, Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS, talked about the gravity of groundwater situation in our country. He said that as a consumer we have right to water but we need to exercise this right while simultaneously ensuring our responsibility to manage and conserve water.
Mathew Cherian, Chair, CARE India, spoke about how traditional knowledge is absolutely essential to recharge water. He stated that there is great pressure on groundwater across country and states like Rajasthan may face severe stress in coming years. Therefore, for better management of water resources, wisdom of people and community knowledge are vital. While pointing out the National Water Policy of 2012, which highlights the need to promote biodiversity to conserve water, Cherian advocated for sustainable farming methods and planting more trees like the Khejri tree, which is a big source for conserving water.
Shubha Ramachandran, Head, Water Team, Biome Environmental Trust, reminded how people living in cities are largely not aware from where the water comes, and to where it goes. She called for rejuvenation of open wells and shallow acquifers, instead of solely depending on groundwater. Ramachandran pointed out that these could help in dealing with urban floods and provide livelihoods to traditional well digging communities.
Joydeep Gupta, South Asia Director, The Third Pole, claimed that India is the largest user of groundwater in the world for irrigation, which is certainly not moving in a sustainable direction. In most places across the country, people, mostly women, are forced to leave homes at travel miles in search of water. He stressed that water is a micro environmental issue, and best practice of a place cannot be replicated at another to conserve water. Gupta also urged transition to sprinkler and drip irrigation system for a sustainable future.
Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS, in his concluding remarks pointed out that CUTS has been dealing with these issues for a long time now. He called for a whole of government approach as most of the issues related to water cover various ministries rather than just the Water Resource Ministry. Mehta also pointed out that local governments play an essential role in this regard, but there is a need to empower local institutions.
The webinar was attended by more than 50 participants representing stakeholders from environment and groundwater management organisations, agriculture sector, government representatives, civil society organisations, within the country and abroad.
For more information, please contact
Amar Deep Singh, Senior Programme Officer
CUTS International, D-218, Bhaskar Marg, Banipark, Jaipur-302016
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