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October 15, 2017

Essays for Competitive Exams : Global Water Crisis

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Global Water Crisis

Main Points to Highlight : Every faith advocates that water is sacred and water is life. Mythologically, a very popular proverb BHAGIRATH TAPASYA has got the connotation with water. The Quranic interpretation of the value of WATER is that Almighty has gifi-ed water to mankind as most beneficial. Both plant and animal kingdoms cannot survive without water. The physical infrastructure including the industrial growth is directly guided by the availability of water. Even politics and economic growth of a country particularly India, are not untouched by the water as the main issue. Talk on water is tremendous: the glory of water is endless.

October 9, 2003 paralyzed life in Chennai. 12 hour dawn-to-dusk general strike to condemn Karnataka's non-refusal to release Cauvery water to 'Tamil Nadu was the main reason. The strike was total and peaceful. No violence was reported form anywhere in the state. Pondicherry, the coastal city of Tamil Nadu, too, observed a total bandh to protest against the plight of farmers in the Karaikal region following Karnataka's refusal to release Cauvery Water. On the other side, Karnataka's chief Minister decided to cut short his Padyatra on the Cauvery issue and dismissed threats about imposition of Presidents' rule in Karnataka, for not obeying the Supreme Court directive on water release. The only reason behind the bone of contention between the two Indian States is nothing but the Cauvery issue. 

Water crisis in India is miserable. There are draughts and famines causing untold misery, death and destruction. Today, there are thousands of villagers and towns facing an acute drinking water shortage. Water supply plants are not able to supply sufficient water in cities. Pollution on our water resources is on rise. As a result, more and more villages, towns and cities are facing the problem. Funds to the tune of Rs. 20,000 crores are needed to sustain drinking water system in the country for the next 5 years. The urgent need of the hour is that communities should be involved in sustaining the water resources created for the people, especially in the Indian cities.

Water management efforts have yet not been made very effective. It has given us a poor scenario. Agriculture, and other water management aspects are there in the constitutions of India, but the water crisis still remains an incomplete national task. Cherapunji in India is the wettest place in the world which receives an annual rainfall of about 15,000 mm and yet the village often faces drinking water shortage because of widespread deforestation resulting in drying up of water sources soon after raining season is over. The other side of the picture is that of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. It receives just about 100 mm of annual rainfall and yet this desert town could manage to collect enough water for its use. 

Now, what amount of water crisis is there in the other part of the World? More than one billion people, most of them among the world's poorest don't have access to enough fresh water. That number is expected to double by 2015, and then more than triple by 2050. As a result, more than 76 million people will die over the next 20 years because they cannot access enough fresh water, according to the pacific Institute, Oakland, Calif. 

Industrial growth of all types, needs water. No liquid products including medicine can be made without water. Multiplicity for more water requirement is constantly on rise. On the other hand the fact is that an average human needs 49 litres of water per day for drinking, cooking, and sanitation. The average US citizen uses 269 liters of water per day. The average inhabitant of the African continent uses 6 litres per day. 

Since water becomes more scarce, it fuels international conflicts. Twenty-two countries depend upon water that flows through river system that begin in other countries. Many of these are located in flashpoint regions such as the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East, and Sub-Sahara Africa. The late king Hussain of Jordan said, "Water is the one issue that could drive the nations of these regions to war." This is not the only example in respect of water crisis. There have been many riot-like situations in many parts of the Asian and African countries. In the Indian sub-continent alone—there is an environmental problem on several fronts. Economic development and a rapidly growing population that has taken the country from 300 million people in 1947 to over one billion people today is putting a strain on the environment, infrastructure, and the country's natural resources. Industrial pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, rapid industrialization, urbanization, and land degradation are all worsening problems. The Indian Government has estimated the cost of environmental degradation at about 4.5% of GDP in recent years. At this point of critical environmental hazards—acute water crisis is no longer a subject matter to be taken non-seriously. Water crisis is worsening. 

Global warming adds more of complexity to the situation. If the world's temperature rises, ice caps holding more than half of the world's fresh water will melt, making estuaries flood and rainfall patterns more erratic. Just one example of the dangers inherent in global warming is the melting glaciers of Kazakhstan. Such frightening portents have not stirred the world to action. Taking into account the gravity of the situation, in the United Nation Millennium Assembly in September 2000, the attendants agreed to cut in half by 2015 the current number of people without enough water. 

Stephen Harrison of Oxford University is of the view that glaciers have receded so far already that massive rock spills have left rocks clogging up dams throughout Central Area. He says, "There is a real danger of disastrous dam bursts, hurling rocks and debris on the settlements below." 

Eli Raz, an Israeli geologist, found himself in something of a hole, and a rather deep one on a desert highway near his home by the Dead Sea to inspect some rock formations in 2003. The Dead Sea is, in a word, disappearing. Normally, the Jordan River feeds this body. In the last few decades, however, Israeli and Jordanian farmers have been siphoning water for agricultural use. Just in a worldwide trend: More than 80 % of the water used in developing nations goes towards agriculture. Today's Jordan River is little more than a bubbling brook in the north, reduced to a damp mud bed in the south. By the time it reaches the Dead Sea, it dries. As a result, every drop has refilled the Dead Sea, which, because, it is located at a Earth's lowest point in the middle of a desert and surrounded by reflective cliffs, evaporates rapidly. According to the geologist, the Sea's shoreline has already retreated some 24 meters in the past 70 years. 

Environmentalists agree that the Dead Sea is in a deep crisis. It is also an important stop for one of the world's largest bird migration routs. If it disappears, it could drastically affect wildlife throughout Europe and Africa. The World Bank has agreed to spend $ 400 million (US) to build a pipeline from the Red Sea in the South to the Dead Sea. The plan has not been set in motion, mainly because of fears that regional violence will sabotage it. Meanwhile, every year, the Dead Sea recedes by another one to two meters. 

Economic growth and industrial developments are the areas where overemphasis is focused on. For instance, virtual water is a way to obtain water where there is no involvement of technology or construction. This term was coined by Tony Allan, a geographer at King's College, London, in 1994. The Term "virtual water" means the amount of water needed to produce goods. Israel for example, developed a citrus export industry in the first decade of its existence. Oranges and grapefruits can thrive in the fertile crescent sunshine, but they require a lot of irrigation. Similarly, Jordan has all but has abandoned emphasis on agriculture and favours other sectors such as tourism and heavy industry. 

Drinking water from the sea is possible only when an affordable way could be found to squeeze the salt out of seawater which is a costly endeavour, mainly because it craves energy. More than 11,000 desalination plants, cleaning billions of litres of water a day, are located throughout the world, primarily in the Persian Gulf. Most of these Gulf-based plants use an older technology called multistage flash distillation(MFD), which basically boils the water. The process is extremely energy-intensive, which brings a problem for just about every country except those in the oil-rich Gulf countries. This method, too, is not that much bearable and cost-effective. According to an estimate about $ 2000 for a cell that produces 3,785 litres of desalinized water per day is quite expensive. Besides, more environmentally dangerous issue is: where to put all that extracted salt ? 

Search for a viable and cost-effective technology is the thirst. Development strategists are wary of investing in such expensive technologies in the hope that they eventually will become cost-effective. Some of the more utilitarian water technology research is being done on creating systems that are simple and the cheapest. A researcher, Widever spent his time in his Munich lab monitoring a model sewage system that automatically recycles household water multiple times. It means whatever amount of water is used returns to the same houses after it is cleaned. Rice producing countries including India, no crop requires more water than rice. One kilogram of this staple requires 1,500 litres of water. World Water Development Report of the United Nation says that the water often drawn from rivers becomes salty because of high evaporation rates, which then salinises surrounding bodies of water. Now, it is possible to ask people to give up rice. This could be one way to reduce the world's water crisis, but half the world's population consumes it. 

Water demand in India is for four primary consumptives uses, namely irrigation, power production, domestic and industrial. In the area of water management —it is known that water quality deteriorates due to repeated use, no serious attention has been paid to the qualitative aspect of water resources. The total water available in India is about 1900 thousands million m3, annually, which would be shared between the four primary consumptive uses, as mentioned earlier. However, aquatic ecologists suggests that at no point of time should more than half of the total water available annually for utilization be withdrawn. The total quantity of return water, which becomes waste-water after utilization, is estimated at 286 thousands million m3. Similarly the volume of industrial liquid water is about 8 to 16 % and above of the total city waste. The time is not far away that the volume of wastewater discharged by the Indian industry may be half the volume of domestic sewage generated in the cities. The water of the Ganga and the Yamuna is the worst victim as both human and industrial wastewater mixes

It is important to identify the major sources of pollution and arrange the same in order of severity to plan a control strategy. Cities are considered as major sources of pollution and so the urban sewerage system, particularly in the class-I cities, would play a very vital role in water pollution control because this system, if properly planned, takes care of both domestic and industrial waters. Most industries are located in the cities and continue to attract more industries in their neighbourhood, as such a process of industrialization with the cities is one of the primary causes of urban growth, both in size and population. 

Control strategy for water management in India is slow. Cities are considered as major sources of pollution. It may be the Yamuna in Delhi or the Ganga in Kanpur. Both the sacred rivers are badly polluted. Sewerage regulation hardly keeps control over industrial waste discharge. Although the water prevention and control of pollution act is in force since 1974 but still the role of this Act needs BHAGIRAT TAPAYSA. No doubt, the importance of water conservation is a landmark achievement of the Act. Every drop of water used in the industry is levied. The industry has become cautious of the wasteful use of water and realized the recycling process as an integrated concept while planning water use. Less water means less wastewater and this in term requires lesser volume of the rector vessels for treatment, all this would inevitably lead to economy. In order to avoid establishment of new industries without pollution, the licensing procedures and subsequent follow-up action needs to be streamlined. While setting up any new industry, environment impact assessment should be made more effective for making correct decisions regarding possible negative impact and nature and extent of abatement technology required for mitigating ill-effects of pollution and possible eco-degradation. Similarly, in urban sector, a proper land use plan will have to be evolved and adopted for containing the stress of environmental pollution on resident population. 

Turning to Kaveri issue—it is the truth that the prime need for life process, rivers have been used for domestic, agricultural, fisheries, industrial, recreational, aesthetic, navigational and power generation purposes. India's progress is entirely based on agricultural sector. And this is attributed to the presence of an irrigation system. There are chains of rivers, canals and channels in the country. Thus, the irrigation system has been very vital for our agriculture from times immemorial. We find an evidence from the early medieval period where a Minister is reported to have advised his King in the following words : 
`O, King, hast then, ensured that agriculture in the Kingdom does not depend on rain." 
Water is Nature's precious gift, a bliss every human being needs. People of the world must realize it. Or the day is not far away when as the late King Hussein of Jordan said: " Water is the one issue, that could drive the nations of this region to war." Water crisis in Indian context can never be exempted in terms of global water crisis.
shared by Suresh Kumar
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