Scientists not satisfied with India's water management approach

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Agartala, Oct 3 (UNI) Experts have expressed concern over India's water resource management strategies while suggesting stopping work on the proposed river linking project and instead emphasise on making people aware of the optimum use of fresh water.

''Fresh water is mainly used in India in the agricultural sector, especially rice, and scientists have been trying to adopt less water-based production,'' Dr Biksham Gujja, renowned water scientist told UNI here today.

The Switzerland-based scientist is also Policy Advisor of Global Water Issues and Partnerships at the WWF International Global Fresh Water Programme.

Dr Gujja pointed out that they were not at all impressed with the water resource management approaches being practised in the country by constructing dams and the recent project of interlinking the river.

''We believe such plans will give rise to conflicts for water among the states as well as communities and neighbouring nations because the crisis of fresh water will become more severe across the world in the next two decades and interlinking of major surface water sources and construction of dams will lead to inequality of water distribution,'' Dr Gujja opined.

He also stated that besides surface water pollution, arsenic, iron and fluoride contamination in ground water in major parts of India had already aggravated the situation while misuse and wastage of fresh water was posing a serious threat to the developing nations with India being at the top of the list.

''Since the maximum amount of water is required in rice cultivation and also because rice feeds almost 90 per cent of the population, we have suggested the agronomists and policy makers to go for System Rice Intensification (SRI) method of production, which requires minimum water, fertilisers and seeds,'' Dr Gujja underlined.

He said about 44 million hectares of land in 500 districts out of the 600-odd districts of India had already come under rice production but most of the Indian states were still dependent on Punjab and Haryana.

Referring to the strategic plan, Dr Gujja said scientists were motivating small and marginal rice producers to adopt SRI method of cultivation - ''nothing technical or costly, just make a conceptual change of process, which needs one-fifth amount of seeds, water and land than normal production.'' According to estimates, about Rs 20,000 crore additional money would be required to adopt the SRI method of rice cultivation and that could be managed only if the construction of any more dams in the country was stopped.

''The policy makers should understand that we can create more water bodies to store rain water but we cannot increase the natural fresh water by constructing dams or linking rivers and obstructing their natural flow,'' he said.

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