Today, I came across a statement regarding water: The paradox of the water situation is that there is scarcity amid plenty. How true it is! We all know that water is a pre-requisite for existence of life, prime natural resource, basic human need, and precious national asset. There are vast resources of water on Earth. But, the water fit for human consumption is scarce. Out of total water resources of Earth, 97% is marine water while, only 3% is freshwater. Moreover, uneven distribution of water over space and time, restricted rainfall in a year (monsoon months), excessive deforestation, global warming, excessive extraction of groundwater for irrigation, depleting aquifers etc. make it more difficult for people to get water for meeting their requirements.
The above mentioned statement has made me recall my stay at Uttarakhand. I have spent many years of my life in beautiful hill state of Uttarakhand (India). Natural beauty of this hill state is everlasting. It has got snow laden peaks of Himalayas, several rivers, lakes and evergreen valleys. Water resources of this beautiful hill state are plenty but still people especially ladies have to fetch water from long distances to meet their day to day need of water. Although, there are so many programme run by authorities but the problem of water scarcity remains the same for most of the people. I felt very confused when I saw plenty of water, sometimes causing floods, in rivers, but, at the same time, no water in the taps.
I have been in field of Environmental Sciences for past many years; I have closely studied various aspects of water resources in Uttarakhand (India). In my point of view, major reasons for scarcity of water in hill states are:
- Underground water recharge becomes difficult due to hilly terrain
- Subsequent flash floods and high surface run-off
- Risks of landslides and damage to water and water storage systems are very high
- Developmental activities (road construction, unplanned urban expansion) added to fragility and vulnerability
- Western model of development and management of freshwater resources
- Ignorance towards traditional methods of water resource management
I will write on traditional methods of water resource management which are followed in Uttarakhand (India) in my next post.
Remember to turn off taps of your home, when not in use.