Saturday, March 23 2002

The Hindustan Times

SUPPLY WAS 38 per cent short of the water demand in 2000, the year when the State experienced one of the most devastating floods it has known.

The deficit had risen over the years and interpolation to 2025 leaves a deficit of 59 per cent. That would mean a child born today would find less than half the water he needs in his youth.

Experts on water management have blamed successive governments of not managing water effectively enough.

“No new dam has been built since the 1960s. And no efforts have been launched to increase the storage capacity of those in operation either, so that there is no mechanism for storing the excess water in the monsoon season,” said professor Kalyan Rudra, visiting lecturer of Vidyasagar University.

He also questioned the laying of synthetic sheets to prevent water loss from canal bases. “Contractors at work have told me it costs Rs.40 lakhs for making a synthetic turf over a stretch of one kilometre. How many farmers in India can afford to buy water for agriculture at such a price? And even if they can, would they find any takers for the produce that is bound to cost more?”

Rudra was speaking at a seminar on water management organised by Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) on the occasion of International Water Day.

Experts also questioned the logic behind bringing water for cultivation from Bihar and wondered why the state was not keen to use a technology more cost-effective and handy.

If some farmers can be impressed upon to dig a pond that can store rainwater, for instance, it would be more effective.

Another scientist, Arunava Majumder, said the farmers could be taught to purify the stored rainwater for drinking by filtering it through pebbles and sand.