How to Reduce India’s Dependence on Monsoon Rains?

How to Reduce India’s Dependence on Monsoon Rains?

50% of India’s population depends upon agriculture.  India depends on monsoon rain for 60 percent of her net sown agricultural area. Thus India’s economy can be termed as a ‘monsoon economy’. This situation is very risky and India cannot continue to remain in this state in order to become a global power. How to reduce India’s dependence on monsoon rains  is a big question for the nation.  In this blog an attempt has been made to analyse ‘How to Reduce India’s Dependence on Monsoon Rains?’

Grim Situation of Dependence on Monsoon Rains and Poor Water Management

  • India’s population is growing by 10 to 15 million people every year. The resulting demand for food must be satisfied with higher yields and better crop security. There is an urgent need to reduce dependence on monsoon rains.
  • India currently stores only 30 days of rainfall, while developed nations strategically store 900 days worth of water demand in arid areas river basins and reservoirs.
  • India also relies excessively on groundwater, which accounts for over 50 percent of irrigated area with 20 million tube wells installed. About 15 percent of India’s food is being produced using rapidly depleting groundwater. This is unsustainable.
  • Most urban centres depend upon groundwater for the population, which gets depleted rapidly. Water from the vicinity has to be utilised to meet the requirement, which is costly.
  • The major wheat and rice seeds used in the country require large quantity of water.
  • 99 districts of the country are classified as drought prone. An area of about 40 million hectare is prone to recurring floods.
  •  Adverse Impacts of  Dependence on Monsoon Rain ( deficient rainfall):
    • Agriculture production is low. There is a drop in share of agriculture towards GDP. Agriculture contributes up to 17% of GDP.
    • Food inflation is high. As food grains are primary articles of consumption the entire country, particularly the poor, get adversely impacted.
    • Rural incomes fall. More farmers commit suicide. Rural demand falls.
    • Services and industrial GDP also falls.
    • There is an increase in demand for diesel.
    • Hydroelectric power production falls.
    • Demand for power increases.

Macro Measures Needed to Reduce Dependence on Monsoon Rains

River’s Water Linking Project to Reduce Dependence on Monsoon Rains

The total surface water available to India is nearly 1440 million acre feet. Up to 1979, India had built 600 storage dams with an aggregate capacity of 171 billion cubic meters. These small storages enable a seventh of the water available in the country to be utilized beneficially.
River’s water linking project was started with energy in the Vajpayee regime, but waned under the UPA rule. The project envisages transfer of water from the surplus river basins to ease the water shortages in Western and Southern India while mitigating the impact of recurrent floods in Eastern India. The project would entail building 30 links and some 3000 storages to connect 37 Himalayan and Peninsular rivers to form a gigantic South Asian water grid. The canals, planned to be 50 to 100 meters wide and more than 6 meters deep, would facilitate navigation.  This will involve building 12,500 km of canals, create 35 gigawatts of hydroelectric power capacity, add 35 million hectare to India’s irrigated areas, and generate an unknown volume of navigation and fishery benefits .Some 3700 MW would be required to lift water across major watershed ridges by up to 116 meters. Most observers agree that the project may not be fully complete even by 2050. Report on the current status and the colossal budget estimates are not available. This will be a major action to reduce dependence on monsoon rains.

Agriculture Research to Reduce Dependence on Monsoon Rains

Agriculture research is needed to develop drought resistant and low water requiring crops. It is also needed to evolve creative, cheap and practicable methods of water conservation and getting ‘more crop per drop’. This will also reduce dependence on monsoon rains.

Promoting a Shift of High Water Requiring Crops like Rice

Large quantity of high water requiring crops like rice need to be grown in the high rainfall and high water availability regions of Eastern India and not in the unsustainable regions of West and South India. This will reduce dependence on monsoon rains.

Micro Measures Needed to Reduce Dependence on Monsoon Rains

These measures are vital for better micro water management by all citizens, farmers and societies. Major methods to reduce dependence on monsoon rains are:

  • Rain water harvesting.
  • Drip Irrigation.
  • Sprinkler Irrigation.
  • Irrigation only in hours of darkness.
  • Recharging the groundwater.
  • Creative devices like tension-meters. Punjab Agricultural University worked with 8,000 farmers to achieve a 12-15 percent reduction in water use through this tool used to measure the moisture content of the soil.
Cooperation and Coordination is Vital for Water Management

India needs to adopt all the measures suggested above. This will need great deal of cooperative environment and mobilisation of public opinion, particularly in favour of the river’s water linking project.

Conclusion:  How to Reduce Dependence on Monsoon Rains?

The above measures need to be planned and executed at the earliest in an environment of cooperation. People have to be educated and involved in the projects. Government cannot shoulder the burden of expenses. The private sector will have to be involved. The user farmers and urban dwellers will have to pay for the water. Accomplishing all this would be a tall order. India does not have a choice. It has to be done and the work has to commence now!
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