Dipannita Das, TNN | Times of India, Mar 29, 2012
PUNE: Climate change presents a unique opportunity to revisit our plans
to develop and manage water resources, besides helping frame policies
and practices, says a report titled 'water sector options for India in a
changing climate,' published recently by South Asia Network on Dams,
Rivers and People (SANDRP).
The SANDRP is an informal network that works on issues related to
rivers, large dams and their impacts, sustainability and governance. The
report provides options for coping with climate change and mitigating
its negative effects, besides discussing challenges in managing water
resources.The study is based on community initiatives taken up across
The report cites examples of Hiware Bazar in Maharashtra which displayed
efficiency in rainwater harvesting in local water systems to ensure
groundwater recharge; Bhandara Nisarga va Sanskrutik Abhyas Mandal which
worked closely with government committees on tank revitalisation and
bringing the local perspective on board; and Ralegaon Siddhi for
Parineeta Dandekar, associate coordinator of SANDRP, Pune, told TOI that
there were methods to cope local changes on a small scale and these
community-based initiatives were the best examples. Large hydro electric
power dam or irrigation dam is not an answer to climate change, she added.
Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator SANDRP, said that groundwater is India's
lifeline. In the context of climate change, groundwater demand, use and
recharge will be affected leading to further depletion of groundwater
Urgent action is required to protect existing groundwater recharge
systems, to create more groundwater recharge systems, reduce groundwater
use by adopting appropriate cropping patterns, cropping methods, and
take up regulatory system.
The report cites an example of the impact of crops in the changing
climate scenario. It
states that changing weather patterns are affecting cultivation cycles
on 444,790 acres of grape farms in Maharashtra. It quotes Mahendra
Sahir, president of the Maharashtra State Grape Growers' Association,
who says rainfall in November for the last three to four years has
delayed pruning and thus harvesting, making it increasingly difficult to
meet deadlines for supplies of grapes to the European Union.
Thakkar said that some of the sections of Indian population that were
most vulnerable to the impact of climate change in the context of water
and agriculture, included farmers dependent on rain-fed agriculture,
coastal populations, communities from Himalayas, eastern and western
ghats, fisher-folks, tribals, dalits, rural populations, urban poor and
women. Any climate action needs to begin with identifying and listing
such sections and then proceeding to prepare plans in a participatory
way for its mitigation, he said.
The report said that the approach for revamped water management strategy
in changing climate would need to include a protection strategy for
rivers, forests, wetlands, water bodies, biodiversity, critical
ecological habitats and groundwater reserves, as well as demand side
management measures, along with a definition of the clear linkages
between these domains.
According to Thakkar, the opportunities provided by climate change were
still within reach. India, with the world's largest water
infrastructure, also has the biggest performance deficit in terms of
what that infrastructure can deliver and what it was delivering now.
However, he pointed out that India's national action plan for climate
change, or the national agriculture and water missions do not take this
first crucial step and hence have remained directionless, ineffective
and have not inspired much confidence.
The report will be submitted to departments concerned, local bodies and
civil society organizations to take up the recommendations.
[The full report can be ordered from email@example.com, or downloaded
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