NCERT Textbook - Water Resources Class 10 Notes | EduRev

Class 10 : NCERT Textbook - Water Resources Class 10 Notes | EduRev

Created by: C K Academy
 Page 1


You already know that three-fourth of the
earth’s surface is covered with water, but only
a small proportion of it accounts for freshwater
that can be put to use. This freshwater is mainly
obtained from surface run off and ground water
that is continually being renewed and
recharged through the hydrological cycle. All
water moves within the hydrological cycle
ensuring that water is a renewable resource.
You might wonder that if three-fourth of
the world is covered with water and water is a
renewable resource, then how is it that
countries and regions around the globe suffer
from water scarcity? Why is it predicted that
by 2025, nearly two billion people will live in
absolute water scarcity?
Water: Some facts and figures
• 96.5 per cent of the total volume of world’s
water is estimated to exist as oceans and
only 2.5 per cent as freshwater. Nearly
70 per cent of this freshwater occurs as
ice sheets and glaciers in Antarctica,
Greenland and the mountainous regions
of the world, while a little less than 30
per cent is stored as groundwater in the
world’s aquifers.
• India receives nearly 4 per cent of the
global precipitation and ranks 133 in the
world in terms of water availability per
person per annum.
• The total renewable water resources of India
are estimated at 1,897 sq km per annum.
2015-16
Page 2


You already know that three-fourth of the
earth’s surface is covered with water, but only
a small proportion of it accounts for freshwater
that can be put to use. This freshwater is mainly
obtained from surface run off and ground water
that is continually being renewed and
recharged through the hydrological cycle. All
water moves within the hydrological cycle
ensuring that water is a renewable resource.
You might wonder that if three-fourth of
the world is covered with water and water is a
renewable resource, then how is it that
countries and regions around the globe suffer
from water scarcity? Why is it predicted that
by 2025, nearly two billion people will live in
absolute water scarcity?
Water: Some facts and figures
• 96.5 per cent of the total volume of world’s
water is estimated to exist as oceans and
only 2.5 per cent as freshwater. Nearly
70 per cent of this freshwater occurs as
ice sheets and glaciers in Antarctica,
Greenland and the mountainous regions
of the world, while a little less than 30
per cent is stored as groundwater in the
world’s aquifers.
• India receives nearly 4 per cent of the
global precipitation and ranks 133 in the
world in terms of water availability per
person per annum.
• The total renewable water resources of India
are estimated at 1,897 sq km per annum.
2015-16
24 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
associate it with regions having low rainfall
or those that are drought prone. We
instantaneously visualise the deserts of
Rajasthan and women balancing many
‘matkas’ (earthen pots) used for collecting and
storing water and travelling long distances to
get water. True, the availability of water
resources varies over space and time, mainly
due to the variations in seasonal and annual
precipitation, but water scarcity in most cases
is caused by over- exploitation, excessive use
and unequal access to water among different
social groups.
Fig. 3.1:  Water Scarcity
• By 2025, it is predicted that large parts of
India will join countries or regions having
absolute water scarcity.
Source: The UN World Water Development
Report, 2003
WATER SCARCITY AND THE NEED FOR WATER
CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT
Given the abundance and renewability of
water, it is difficult to imagine that we may
suffer from water scarcity. The moment we
speak of water shortages, we immediately
Water , Water Everywhere, Not a Drop to Drink:
After a heavy downpour, a boy collects drinking
water in Kolkata. Life in the city and its adjacent
districts was paralysed as incessant overnight rain,
meaning a record 180 mm, flooded vast area and
disruted traffic.
A Kashmiri earthquake survivor carries water in
the snow in a devastated village.
2015-16
Page 3


You already know that three-fourth of the
earth’s surface is covered with water, but only
a small proportion of it accounts for freshwater
that can be put to use. This freshwater is mainly
obtained from surface run off and ground water
that is continually being renewed and
recharged through the hydrological cycle. All
water moves within the hydrological cycle
ensuring that water is a renewable resource.
You might wonder that if three-fourth of
the world is covered with water and water is a
renewable resource, then how is it that
countries and regions around the globe suffer
from water scarcity? Why is it predicted that
by 2025, nearly two billion people will live in
absolute water scarcity?
Water: Some facts and figures
• 96.5 per cent of the total volume of world’s
water is estimated to exist as oceans and
only 2.5 per cent as freshwater. Nearly
70 per cent of this freshwater occurs as
ice sheets and glaciers in Antarctica,
Greenland and the mountainous regions
of the world, while a little less than 30
per cent is stored as groundwater in the
world’s aquifers.
• India receives nearly 4 per cent of the
global precipitation and ranks 133 in the
world in terms of water availability per
person per annum.
• The total renewable water resources of India
are estimated at 1,897 sq km per annum.
2015-16
24 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
associate it with regions having low rainfall
or those that are drought prone. We
instantaneously visualise the deserts of
Rajasthan and women balancing many
‘matkas’ (earthen pots) used for collecting and
storing water and travelling long distances to
get water. True, the availability of water
resources varies over space and time, mainly
due to the variations in seasonal and annual
precipitation, but water scarcity in most cases
is caused by over- exploitation, excessive use
and unequal access to water among different
social groups.
Fig. 3.1:  Water Scarcity
• By 2025, it is predicted that large parts of
India will join countries or regions having
absolute water scarcity.
Source: The UN World Water Development
Report, 2003
WATER SCARCITY AND THE NEED FOR WATER
CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT
Given the abundance and renewability of
water, it is difficult to imagine that we may
suffer from water scarcity. The moment we
speak of water shortages, we immediately
Water , Water Everywhere, Not a Drop to Drink:
After a heavy downpour, a boy collects drinking
water in Kolkata. Life in the city and its adjacent
districts was paralysed as incessant overnight rain,
meaning a record 180 mm, flooded vast area and
disruted traffic.
A Kashmiri earthquake survivor carries water in
the snow in a devastated village.
2015-16
25 WATER RESOURCES
requirements but have further aggravated the
problem. If you look into the housing
societies or colonies in the cities, you would
find that most of these have their own
groundwater pumping devices to meet their
water needs. Not surprisingly, we find that
fragile water resources are being over-
exploited and have caused their depletion in
several of these cities.
So far we have focused on the quantitative
aspects of water scarcity. Now, let us consider
another situation where water is sufficiently
available to meet the needs of the people,
but, the area still suffers from water scarcity.
This scarcity may be due to bad quality of
water. Lately, there has been a growing
concern that even if there is ample water to
meet the needs of the people, much of it may
be polluted by domestic and industrial
wastes, chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers
used in agriculture, thus, making it
hazardous for human use.
Where is then water scarcity likely to
occur? As you have read in the hydrological
cycle, freshwater can be obtained directly
from precipitation, surface run off and
groundwater.
Is it possible that an area or region may
have ample water resources but is still facing
water scarcity? Many of our cities are such
examples. Thus, water scarcity may be an
outcome of large and growing population and
consequent greater demands for water, and
unequal access to it. A large population means
more water not only for domestic use but also
to produce more food. Hence, to facilitate
higher food-grain production, water resources
are being over-exploited to expand irrigated
areas and dry-season agriculture. You may
have seen in many television advertisements
that most farmers have their own wells and
tube-wells in their farms for irrigation to
increase their produce. But have you ever
wondered what this could result in? That it
may lead to falling groundwater levels,
adversely affecting water availability and food
security of the people.
Post-independent India witnessed
intensive industrialisation and urbanisation,
creating vast opportunities for us. Today,
large industrial houses are as commonplace
as the industrial units of many MNCs
(Multinational Corporations). The ever-
increasing number of industries has made
matters worse by exerting pressure on
existing freshwater resources. Industries,
apart from being heavy users of water, also
require power to run them. Much of this
energy comes from hydroelectric power.
Today, in India hydroeclectric power
contributes approximately 22 per cent of the
total electricity produced. Moreover,
multiplying urban centres with large and
dense populations and urban lifestyles have
not only added to water and energy
According to Falkenmark, a Swedish expert,
water stress occurs when water availability
is between 1,000 and 1,600 cubic metre per
person per year.
India’s rivers, especially the smaller ones,
have all turned into toxic streams. And even
the big ones like the Ganga and Yamuna
are far from being pure. The assault on
India’s rivers – from population growth,
agricultural modernisation, urbanisation and
industrialisation – is enormous and growing
by the day….. This entire life stands
threatened.
Source: The Citizens’ Fifth Report, CSE, 1999.
You may have already realised that the
need of the hour is to conserve and manage
our water resources, to safeguard ourselves
from health hazards, to ensure food security,
continuation of our livelihoods and
productive activities and also to prevent
degradation of our natural ecosystems. Over
exploitation and mismanagement of water
resources will impoverish this resource and
cause ecological crisis that may have
profound impact on our lives.
From your everyday experiences, write a short
proposal on how you can conserve water.
2015-16
Page 4


You already know that three-fourth of the
earth’s surface is covered with water, but only
a small proportion of it accounts for freshwater
that can be put to use. This freshwater is mainly
obtained from surface run off and ground water
that is continually being renewed and
recharged through the hydrological cycle. All
water moves within the hydrological cycle
ensuring that water is a renewable resource.
You might wonder that if three-fourth of
the world is covered with water and water is a
renewable resource, then how is it that
countries and regions around the globe suffer
from water scarcity? Why is it predicted that
by 2025, nearly two billion people will live in
absolute water scarcity?
Water: Some facts and figures
• 96.5 per cent of the total volume of world’s
water is estimated to exist as oceans and
only 2.5 per cent as freshwater. Nearly
70 per cent of this freshwater occurs as
ice sheets and glaciers in Antarctica,
Greenland and the mountainous regions
of the world, while a little less than 30
per cent is stored as groundwater in the
world’s aquifers.
• India receives nearly 4 per cent of the
global precipitation and ranks 133 in the
world in terms of water availability per
person per annum.
• The total renewable water resources of India
are estimated at 1,897 sq km per annum.
2015-16
24 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
associate it with regions having low rainfall
or those that are drought prone. We
instantaneously visualise the deserts of
Rajasthan and women balancing many
‘matkas’ (earthen pots) used for collecting and
storing water and travelling long distances to
get water. True, the availability of water
resources varies over space and time, mainly
due to the variations in seasonal and annual
precipitation, but water scarcity in most cases
is caused by over- exploitation, excessive use
and unequal access to water among different
social groups.
Fig. 3.1:  Water Scarcity
• By 2025, it is predicted that large parts of
India will join countries or regions having
absolute water scarcity.
Source: The UN World Water Development
Report, 2003
WATER SCARCITY AND THE NEED FOR WATER
CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT
Given the abundance and renewability of
water, it is difficult to imagine that we may
suffer from water scarcity. The moment we
speak of water shortages, we immediately
Water , Water Everywhere, Not a Drop to Drink:
After a heavy downpour, a boy collects drinking
water in Kolkata. Life in the city and its adjacent
districts was paralysed as incessant overnight rain,
meaning a record 180 mm, flooded vast area and
disruted traffic.
A Kashmiri earthquake survivor carries water in
the snow in a devastated village.
2015-16
25 WATER RESOURCES
requirements but have further aggravated the
problem. If you look into the housing
societies or colonies in the cities, you would
find that most of these have their own
groundwater pumping devices to meet their
water needs. Not surprisingly, we find that
fragile water resources are being over-
exploited and have caused their depletion in
several of these cities.
So far we have focused on the quantitative
aspects of water scarcity. Now, let us consider
another situation where water is sufficiently
available to meet the needs of the people,
but, the area still suffers from water scarcity.
This scarcity may be due to bad quality of
water. Lately, there has been a growing
concern that even if there is ample water to
meet the needs of the people, much of it may
be polluted by domestic and industrial
wastes, chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers
used in agriculture, thus, making it
hazardous for human use.
Where is then water scarcity likely to
occur? As you have read in the hydrological
cycle, freshwater can be obtained directly
from precipitation, surface run off and
groundwater.
Is it possible that an area or region may
have ample water resources but is still facing
water scarcity? Many of our cities are such
examples. Thus, water scarcity may be an
outcome of large and growing population and
consequent greater demands for water, and
unequal access to it. A large population means
more water not only for domestic use but also
to produce more food. Hence, to facilitate
higher food-grain production, water resources
are being over-exploited to expand irrigated
areas and dry-season agriculture. You may
have seen in many television advertisements
that most farmers have their own wells and
tube-wells in their farms for irrigation to
increase their produce. But have you ever
wondered what this could result in? That it
may lead to falling groundwater levels,
adversely affecting water availability and food
security of the people.
Post-independent India witnessed
intensive industrialisation and urbanisation,
creating vast opportunities for us. Today,
large industrial houses are as commonplace
as the industrial units of many MNCs
(Multinational Corporations). The ever-
increasing number of industries has made
matters worse by exerting pressure on
existing freshwater resources. Industries,
apart from being heavy users of water, also
require power to run them. Much of this
energy comes from hydroelectric power.
Today, in India hydroeclectric power
contributes approximately 22 per cent of the
total electricity produced. Moreover,
multiplying urban centres with large and
dense populations and urban lifestyles have
not only added to water and energy
According to Falkenmark, a Swedish expert,
water stress occurs when water availability
is between 1,000 and 1,600 cubic metre per
person per year.
India’s rivers, especially the smaller ones,
have all turned into toxic streams. And even
the big ones like the Ganga and Yamuna
are far from being pure. The assault on
India’s rivers – from population growth,
agricultural modernisation, urbanisation and
industrialisation – is enormous and growing
by the day….. This entire life stands
threatened.
Source: The Citizens’ Fifth Report, CSE, 1999.
You may have already realised that the
need of the hour is to conserve and manage
our water resources, to safeguard ourselves
from health hazards, to ensure food security,
continuation of our livelihoods and
productive activities and also to prevent
degradation of our natural ecosystems. Over
exploitation and mismanagement of water
resources will impoverish this resource and
cause ecological crisis that may have
profound impact on our lives.
From your everyday experiences, write a short
proposal on how you can conserve water.
2015-16
26 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
MULTI-PURPOSE RIVER PROJECTS AND
INTEGRATED W ATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
But, how do we conserve and manage water?
Archaeological and historical records show that
from ancient times we have been constructing
sophisticated hydraulic structures like dams
built of stone rubble, reservoirs or lakes,
embankments and canals for irrigation. Not
surprisingly, we have continued this tradition
in modern India by building dams in most of
our river basins.
What are dams and how do they help us
in conserving and managing water? Dams
were traditionally built to impound rivers and
rainwater that could be used later to irrigate
agricultural fields. Today, dams are built not
just for irrigation but for electricity generation,
water supply for domestic and industrial
uses, flood control, recreation, inland
navigation and fish breeding. Hence, dams are
now referred to as multi-purpose projects
where the many uses of the impounded water
are integrated with one another. For example,
in the Sutluj-Beas river basin, the Bhakra –
Nangal project water is being used both for
hydel power production and irrigation.
Similarly, the Hirakud project in the
Mahanadi basin integrates conservation of
water with flood control.
Hydraulic Structures in Ancient India
• In the first century B.C., Sringaverapura
near Allahabad had sophisticated water
harvesting system channelling the flood
water of the river Ganga.
• During the time of Chandragupta Maurya,
dams, lakes and irrigation systems were
extensively built.
• Evidences of sophisticated irrigation works
have also been found in Kalinga,
(Odisha), Nagarjunakonda (Andhra
Pradesh), Bennur (Karnataka), Kolhapur
(Maharashtra), etc.
• In the 11
th
 Century, Bhopal Lake, one of the
largest artificial lakes of its time was built.
• In the 14
th
 Century, the tank in Hauz Khas,
Delhi was constructed by Iltutmish for
supplying water to Siri Fort area.
Source: Dying Wisdom, CSE, 1997.
Fig. 3.2: Hirakud Dam
A dam is a barrier across flowing water that
obstructs, directs or retards the flow, often
creating a reservoir , lake or impoundment.
“Dam” refers to the reservoir rather than the
structure. Most dams have a section called a
spillway or weir over which or through which
it is intended that water will flow either
intermittently or continuously. Dams are
classified according to structure, intended
purpose or height. Based on structure and
the materials used, dams are classified as
timber dams, embankment dams or masonry
dams, with several subtypes. According to
the height, dams can be categorised as large
dams and major dams or alternatively as low
dams, medium height dams and high dams.
Multi-purpose projects, launched after
Independence with their integrated water
resources management approach, were
thought of as the vehicle that would lead the
nation to development and progress,
overcoming the handicap of its colonial past.
Jawaharlal Nehru proudly proclaimed the
dams as the ‘temples of modern India’; the
reason being that it would integrate
development of agriculture and the village
economy with rapid industrialisation and
growth of the urban economy.
2015-16
Page 5


You already know that three-fourth of the
earth’s surface is covered with water, but only
a small proportion of it accounts for freshwater
that can be put to use. This freshwater is mainly
obtained from surface run off and ground water
that is continually being renewed and
recharged through the hydrological cycle. All
water moves within the hydrological cycle
ensuring that water is a renewable resource.
You might wonder that if three-fourth of
the world is covered with water and water is a
renewable resource, then how is it that
countries and regions around the globe suffer
from water scarcity? Why is it predicted that
by 2025, nearly two billion people will live in
absolute water scarcity?
Water: Some facts and figures
• 96.5 per cent of the total volume of world’s
water is estimated to exist as oceans and
only 2.5 per cent as freshwater. Nearly
70 per cent of this freshwater occurs as
ice sheets and glaciers in Antarctica,
Greenland and the mountainous regions
of the world, while a little less than 30
per cent is stored as groundwater in the
world’s aquifers.
• India receives nearly 4 per cent of the
global precipitation and ranks 133 in the
world in terms of water availability per
person per annum.
• The total renewable water resources of India
are estimated at 1,897 sq km per annum.
2015-16
24 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
associate it with regions having low rainfall
or those that are drought prone. We
instantaneously visualise the deserts of
Rajasthan and women balancing many
‘matkas’ (earthen pots) used for collecting and
storing water and travelling long distances to
get water. True, the availability of water
resources varies over space and time, mainly
due to the variations in seasonal and annual
precipitation, but water scarcity in most cases
is caused by over- exploitation, excessive use
and unequal access to water among different
social groups.
Fig. 3.1:  Water Scarcity
• By 2025, it is predicted that large parts of
India will join countries or regions having
absolute water scarcity.
Source: The UN World Water Development
Report, 2003
WATER SCARCITY AND THE NEED FOR WATER
CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT
Given the abundance and renewability of
water, it is difficult to imagine that we may
suffer from water scarcity. The moment we
speak of water shortages, we immediately
Water , Water Everywhere, Not a Drop to Drink:
After a heavy downpour, a boy collects drinking
water in Kolkata. Life in the city and its adjacent
districts was paralysed as incessant overnight rain,
meaning a record 180 mm, flooded vast area and
disruted traffic.
A Kashmiri earthquake survivor carries water in
the snow in a devastated village.
2015-16
25 WATER RESOURCES
requirements but have further aggravated the
problem. If you look into the housing
societies or colonies in the cities, you would
find that most of these have their own
groundwater pumping devices to meet their
water needs. Not surprisingly, we find that
fragile water resources are being over-
exploited and have caused their depletion in
several of these cities.
So far we have focused on the quantitative
aspects of water scarcity. Now, let us consider
another situation where water is sufficiently
available to meet the needs of the people,
but, the area still suffers from water scarcity.
This scarcity may be due to bad quality of
water. Lately, there has been a growing
concern that even if there is ample water to
meet the needs of the people, much of it may
be polluted by domestic and industrial
wastes, chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers
used in agriculture, thus, making it
hazardous for human use.
Where is then water scarcity likely to
occur? As you have read in the hydrological
cycle, freshwater can be obtained directly
from precipitation, surface run off and
groundwater.
Is it possible that an area or region may
have ample water resources but is still facing
water scarcity? Many of our cities are such
examples. Thus, water scarcity may be an
outcome of large and growing population and
consequent greater demands for water, and
unequal access to it. A large population means
more water not only for domestic use but also
to produce more food. Hence, to facilitate
higher food-grain production, water resources
are being over-exploited to expand irrigated
areas and dry-season agriculture. You may
have seen in many television advertisements
that most farmers have their own wells and
tube-wells in their farms for irrigation to
increase their produce. But have you ever
wondered what this could result in? That it
may lead to falling groundwater levels,
adversely affecting water availability and food
security of the people.
Post-independent India witnessed
intensive industrialisation and urbanisation,
creating vast opportunities for us. Today,
large industrial houses are as commonplace
as the industrial units of many MNCs
(Multinational Corporations). The ever-
increasing number of industries has made
matters worse by exerting pressure on
existing freshwater resources. Industries,
apart from being heavy users of water, also
require power to run them. Much of this
energy comes from hydroelectric power.
Today, in India hydroeclectric power
contributes approximately 22 per cent of the
total electricity produced. Moreover,
multiplying urban centres with large and
dense populations and urban lifestyles have
not only added to water and energy
According to Falkenmark, a Swedish expert,
water stress occurs when water availability
is between 1,000 and 1,600 cubic metre per
person per year.
India’s rivers, especially the smaller ones,
have all turned into toxic streams. And even
the big ones like the Ganga and Yamuna
are far from being pure. The assault on
India’s rivers – from population growth,
agricultural modernisation, urbanisation and
industrialisation – is enormous and growing
by the day….. This entire life stands
threatened.
Source: The Citizens’ Fifth Report, CSE, 1999.
You may have already realised that the
need of the hour is to conserve and manage
our water resources, to safeguard ourselves
from health hazards, to ensure food security,
continuation of our livelihoods and
productive activities and also to prevent
degradation of our natural ecosystems. Over
exploitation and mismanagement of water
resources will impoverish this resource and
cause ecological crisis that may have
profound impact on our lives.
From your everyday experiences, write a short
proposal on how you can conserve water.
2015-16
26 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
MULTI-PURPOSE RIVER PROJECTS AND
INTEGRATED W ATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
But, how do we conserve and manage water?
Archaeological and historical records show that
from ancient times we have been constructing
sophisticated hydraulic structures like dams
built of stone rubble, reservoirs or lakes,
embankments and canals for irrigation. Not
surprisingly, we have continued this tradition
in modern India by building dams in most of
our river basins.
What are dams and how do they help us
in conserving and managing water? Dams
were traditionally built to impound rivers and
rainwater that could be used later to irrigate
agricultural fields. Today, dams are built not
just for irrigation but for electricity generation,
water supply for domestic and industrial
uses, flood control, recreation, inland
navigation and fish breeding. Hence, dams are
now referred to as multi-purpose projects
where the many uses of the impounded water
are integrated with one another. For example,
in the Sutluj-Beas river basin, the Bhakra –
Nangal project water is being used both for
hydel power production and irrigation.
Similarly, the Hirakud project in the
Mahanadi basin integrates conservation of
water with flood control.
Hydraulic Structures in Ancient India
• In the first century B.C., Sringaverapura
near Allahabad had sophisticated water
harvesting system channelling the flood
water of the river Ganga.
• During the time of Chandragupta Maurya,
dams, lakes and irrigation systems were
extensively built.
• Evidences of sophisticated irrigation works
have also been found in Kalinga,
(Odisha), Nagarjunakonda (Andhra
Pradesh), Bennur (Karnataka), Kolhapur
(Maharashtra), etc.
• In the 11
th
 Century, Bhopal Lake, one of the
largest artificial lakes of its time was built.
• In the 14
th
 Century, the tank in Hauz Khas,
Delhi was constructed by Iltutmish for
supplying water to Siri Fort area.
Source: Dying Wisdom, CSE, 1997.
Fig. 3.2: Hirakud Dam
A dam is a barrier across flowing water that
obstructs, directs or retards the flow, often
creating a reservoir , lake or impoundment.
“Dam” refers to the reservoir rather than the
structure. Most dams have a section called a
spillway or weir over which or through which
it is intended that water will flow either
intermittently or continuously. Dams are
classified according to structure, intended
purpose or height. Based on structure and
the materials used, dams are classified as
timber dams, embankment dams or masonry
dams, with several subtypes. According to
the height, dams can be categorised as large
dams and major dams or alternatively as low
dams, medium height dams and high dams.
Multi-purpose projects, launched after
Independence with their integrated water
resources management approach, were
thought of as the vehicle that would lead the
nation to development and progress,
overcoming the handicap of its colonial past.
Jawaharlal Nehru proudly proclaimed the
dams as the ‘temples of modern India’; the
reason being that it would integrate
development of agriculture and the village
economy with rapid industrialisation and
growth of the urban economy.
2015-16
27 WATER RESOURCES
In recent years, multi-purpose projects and
large dams have come under great scrutiny
and opposition for a variety of reasons.
Regulating and damming of rivers affect their
natural flow causing poor sediment flow and
excessive sedimentation at the bottom of the
reservoir, resulting in rockier stream beds and
poorer habitats for the rivers’ aquatic life. Dams
also fragment rivers making it difficult for
aquatic fauna to migrate, especially for
spawning. The reservoirs that are created on
the floodplains also submerge the existing
vegetation and soil leading to its decomposition
over a period of time.
Multi-purpose projects and large dams
have also been the cause of many new social
movements like the ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’
and the ‘Tehri Dam Andolan’ etc. Resistance
to these projects has primarily been due to the
large-scale displacement of local communities.
Local people often had to give up their land,
livelihood and their meagre access and control
over resources for the greater good of the
nation. So, if the local people are not benefiting
from such projects then who is benefited?
Perhaps, the landowners and large farmers,
industrialists and few urban centres. Take the
case of the landless in a village – does he really
gain from such a project?
Irrigation has also changed the cropping
pattern of many regions with farmers shifting
to water intensive and commercial crops. This
has great ecological consequences like
salinisation of the soil. At the same time, it has
transformed the social landscape i.e.
increasing the social gap between the richer
landowners and the landless poor. As we can
see, the dams did create conflicts between
people wanting different uses and benefits from
the same water resources. In Gujarat, the
Sabarmati-basin farmers were agitated and
almost caused a riot over the higher priority
given to water supply in urban areas,
particularly during droughts. Inter-state water
disputes are also becoming common with
regard to sharing the costs and benefits of the
multi-purpose project.
Find out more about any one traditional
method of building dams and irrigation works.
We have sown the crops in Asar
We will bring Bhadu in Bhadra
Floods have swollen the Damodar
The sailing boats cannot sail
Oh! Damodar, we fall at your feet
Reduce the floods a little
Bhadu will come a year later
Let the boats sail on your surface
(This popular Bhadu song in the Damodar valley
region narrates the troubles faced by people
owing to the flooding of Damodar river known
as the river of sorrow.)
Narmada Bachao Andolan or Save
Narmada Movement is a Non
Governmental Organisation (NGO) that
mobilised tribal people, farmers,
environmentalists and human rights
activists against the Sardar Sarovar Dam
being built across the Narmada river in
Gujarat. It originally focused on the
environmental issues related to trees that
would be submerged under the dam
water. Recently it has re-focused the
aim to enable poor citizens, especially
the oustees (displaced people) to get
full rehabilitation facilities from
the government.
People felt that their suffering would not
be in vain… accepted the trauma of
displacement believing in the promise of
irrigated fields and plentiful harvests. So,
often the survivors of Rihand told us that they
accepted their sufferings as sacrifice for the
sake of their nation. But now, after thirty bitter
years of being adrift, their livelihood having
even being more precarious, they keep
asking: “Are we the only ones chosen to
make sacrifices for the nation?”
Source: S. Sharma, quoted in In the Belly of the
River . T ribal conflicts over development in Narmada
valley, A. Baviskar , 1995.
2015-16
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