ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Water Literacy Essential

The water situation in India presents a baffling picture. While Jaisalmer, situated in the midst of the desert in Rajasthan, normally faces no shortage of water in spite of an annual rainfall of 100 mm, Cherrapunji, one of the wettest regions of the world with an annual rainfall of 15,000 mm, has an acute shortage of water. Historically, Indians have been the world’s greatest water harvesters. Over centuries, they had developed techniques to harvest every possible form of water from rainwater to groundwater, stream to river water and floodwater. Official data by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) reveals that as many as 6,76,000 big structures were constructed and used by villagers for harvesting of rainwater. After governments became the absolute owners of all public waterbodies, people have forgotten the inherited art of harvesting. Today, water governance is suffering from institutional paralysis at the hand of unaware and inattentive users.

India has more irrigated land than many other countries in the world, but its agriculture continues to be heavily dependent on the monsoon. India gets adequate rainfall, but its demand for water remains unmet because of the imbalance of water resources across the country. We have achieved self-sufficiency in the production of foodgrains through the pursuit of exploitative agricultural practices under Green Revolution, which laid emphasis on the production of two water-intensive crops—rice and wheat. Resource illiteracy remains so high that the age-old concept that “more the water, higher the crop yield” still persists with a majority of farmers.

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