Skip to main content

Big dams encourage inefficient use of water in India, claims top Modi aide Babubhai Navlawala

By Our Representative
Taking a stance similar to one of Centre's staunchest opponents, Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan, the Narendra Modi government's water resources adviser BN Navalawala has taken strong exception to excessive dependence on big dams for solving India's water problems. Instead, he has called for adopting a mix of "efficient methods" in the use of water and laws to ensure that this becomes a reality.
Delivering lecture at the UN World Water Day Celebration seminar organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Delhi last week, Navalawala said, "Much water is lost as it is conveyed from reservoirs to fields, distributed among farmers, and applied to fields. Irrigation efficiency is estimated to average less than 40 percent."
Navalawala said, "Drawbacks of low productivity of land and water use are required to be leveraged upon in the future strategies of achieving food security", adding, "Making irrigation more efficient" could be achieved by "moving toward more sustainable water use", especially by "reducing irrigation needs just by a tenth".
While agreeing that "a wide variety of measures exist to boost agriculture’s water productivity", including "new and improved irrigation technologies, better management practices by farmers and water officials, and changes in the institutions that govern the distribution and use of irrigation water", Navalawala said, this is not enough.
A water reservoir
"The vast water saving potential of these measures will not be realized until the economic policies, laws, and regulations that shape decisions about water use begin to foster efficiency rather than discourage it", he underlined. This could be done, he added, by strictly promoting "rainwater harvesting and micro-watershed development throughout the country."
Strongly favouving the need to "establish a constructive working relationship between civil society" at a time when the Modi government is sharply moving away from it, he suggested, NGOs working on water related issues alone can help "formulate a series of area-specific answers for the needs of arid, drought-prone or water-scarce areas."
Stressing on "on local solutions" and avoiding "‘development’ of the water-intensive kind", Navalawala said, there is a need to "arrest and reverse as quickly as possible the present disastrous overexploitation of groundwater as well as the loss of good water to pollution and contamination".
Currently chief advisor, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, as also water resources adviser of the Government of Gujarat for the last one decade, Navalawala had been India's water resources secretary under Prime Minister AB Vajpayee in early 2000s.
He said, "Linkages between water, economic growth and human development are proving no less than increasing threats to water security in various parts of the world", he said, adding, the result has been that India ranks one of the worst in Sustainable Water Use Index (SWUI).

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk  Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.