Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The drought menace

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It is time that India took steps on a war footing to fight the devastation of drought. Water conservation should not be an ad hoc measure to undertake only when a calamity strikes. It has to be a sustained process. Ten states in India are at present drought- hit and the economy has suffered a loss of Rs 6, 50,000 crore. If successive governments had put their minds to it, the present calamity could have been averted. Not many know that rain water harvesting dates back to the Vedic age. Indian kings built tanks, water channels, ponds, etc to ensure water security. But this system has rusted away over the centuries. Those ancient measures are in fact as much technological solutions as modern water saving technologies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi not merely talks about technical solutions. He has also referred to well-designed old steep wells and shallow wells in his home state, Gujarat. These structures should be revived.

What is more, people should be actively involved in the management of water. They will be partners in harvesting of water and conservation. Women can come forward to do a lot as they have done in Uttar Pradesh. The ladies groups have picked up skills to fix water pumps and hand pumps. The government engineers may do their work alongside. Citizens and technologies have to join forces as Modi has emphasized. Otherwise money and energy will go to waste in short term measures.

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