Pointing out that water scarcity is a global problem, renowned water conservationist Rajendra Singh, well-known as ‘Waterman of India’ said that there is an urgent need for water literacy campaign in the country. He also said that individuals/institutions are found wanting on initiatives to alleviate the problem.
Singh along with his NGO ‘Tarun Bharat Sangh’ in association with Centre for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP) on Monday flagged off Goa-Guwahati water literacy yatra aimed at raising awareness about water conservation to end the water crisis in the country.
The fifteen-day campaign kicked off with a state-level symposium in the city with focus on saving and conserving water, and to deliberate upon understanding of drought, approach to mitigate drought and experiences in managing drought and water management.
Addressing the gathering at a symposium on ‘River Rejuvenation and ecosystem’ here on Monday, Singh while acknowledging that there are greater investments and more focus from the government’s side indicated that unless these are backed by the right kind of measures to involve the communities, long-term success will not be achieved.
“We have to blame ourselves. We changed the course of rivers. We built dams indiscriminately. And, there is a climate change,” Singh said observing, “We can solve the looming crisis if local and traditional water-management practices are followed.”
Singh recalled how he revived an ancient dam technology in his state of Rajasthan. The Johads, earthen check dams, hold water and allow it to percolate deep down replenishing the aquifer. The landscape and climate have been transformed; seven long dead rivers have begun to flow, wells were full and once-parched fields are now fertile, he said.
Singh pointed out that in an arid and dry region like Rajasthan, which gets poor rain, he was able to rejuvenate 11,600 water bodies.
Blaming mushrooming large-scale hotels for water crisis in the state, an environmental activist Fr Simon Fernandes said that the case study carried out by CSJP in the state in 2010 has found that 75 per cent of the water accessed through public supplies is utilised to serve large scale hotels with no limit on commercial usage, the remaining is used by the locals and small traders as a result the state has to face acute water shortage.
He further highlighted the helplessness of the government to resolve the water scarcity and said that there is no plan with the government agencies on water management as also there is lack of attention given to revive the traditional water conservation systems which are left abandoned.