Water use and misuse
OUR pot of water woes is brimming over. That does not seem surprising, according to Ramaswamy R. Iyer, since even though India is one of the few countries in the world which is blessed with an adequate quantity of water, there is a tremendous amount of mismanagement of water resources. While the country has over 4,000 billion cubic meters (bcm) of annual rainfall and almost 2000 bcm of river flow, the reality remains that we have had constant lamentations about the shortage of water and the destruction of fertile soil because of the overuse of water. According to experts, we have already poisoned most of our major rivers to the extent that their waters are not fit for drinking any more and very soon would be unfit for irrigation as well. Under such circumstances, Iyer suggests, it is important to remove ourselves from the hurly-burly of water conflicts, mull over our relationship with water a little more than it has been possible till now and then, serendipitously think of a constructive way out. That calls for wisdom which has been lacking till now in our management of water resources. In this thought-provoking book, Iyer quickly takes us through the various conflicts that have marked the use and misuse of water since Independence. He looks at the various demand-driven policies made by the government for the management of water. However, fulfilling the demand does not necessarily result in an efficient use of water. For a long time, the main focus of the government was to increase the amount of water for irrigation to increase food grain production. Today, over 80 per cent of the total water used in India is for agriculture. However, of the water available for irrigation, more than 60 per cent is wasted. India is one of the few countries in the world where the cities provide as much as 200 litres per capita per day of water. It goes without saying that most of it is wasted, used for cleaning toilets, washing cars and maintaining gardens....
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