It is estimated that about one million sq. km or about one-third of India is liable to drought. These areas receive marginal rainfall of less than 60 cm per year and event his is highly variable. These regions do not have adequate irrigation facilities to tide over drought.
The drought-prone areas are:
(i) The Arid and semiarid regions in the north west—This region receives 1000 and very low rainfall and variability is also over 30%. The region includes most ports of Rajasthan and Gujarat and parts of adjoining states.
(ii) The low rainfall region on the leeward said of the Western Ghats. This region gets less than 60 cm of rainfall per year and the amount of rainfall is highly variable from year to year. This region stretches as a narrow north-sought belt covering Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
(iii) Isolated Areas such as the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, the south-western districts of Uttar Pradesh, Purulia district of West Bengal, Palamau district of Bihar and the Kalahandi region of Orissa. These areas experience drought conditions less frequently than the first two region.
Causes of Drought
- A large area of the country experiences drought condition owing to the following peculiar features of rainfall:
(b) delay in onset of the monsoon
(c) duration or breaks in the monsoon season
(d) areal differences in the persistence of the monsoon.
- The main effects of drought are losss of standing crops over the affected area. Such loss in production may be a few hundred crores of rupees. Apart form this, scarcity of drinking water, especially in rural areas, unemployment among agricultural labourers, scarcity of food and fodder for animals may result.
- The immediate measures taken to combat drought are as follows:
1. Relief Employment Programmes, drinking water supply arrangements and cattle camps. Distribution of essential commodities through Public Distribution System (P.D.S.)
2. Working out of a detailed strategy to boost rabi production of individual crops in specific regions and water sheds and cultivation of short duration cash crops wherever possible.
- The long-term programme is four dimensional.
1. Maximisation of area under assured irrigation with regional plans for agricultural growth.
2. “Course grains policy” for dry farming, with a special thrust towards oilseeds and pulses production and multiple cropping in the regions of high rainfall.
3. Optimised use of water in dryland to maximise the area and output per unit of water and stepping up of afforestation programmes.
4. Separate strategies for each distinct agro-climatic region emphasising the central role of regional factors in agricultural planning.
- Drought-prone Area Programme have been taken for a comprehensive water management and monitoring system throughout the country. 21 districts in the country with about 131 blocks are under the Desert Development Programme. The Drought-prone Area Programme is being implemented in 625 blocks of 91 districts, i.e., 19% of the geographical area.
12. Flood-Prone areas:—
- Floods are as frequent as droughts, because of variations of the monsoon rainfall. The monsoon rainfall is not evenly spread over the four-month period of monsoon winds. There are short spells of intense rainfall with intervening periods of clear skies. Hence the number of rainy days is small.
Causes of Flood
- Floods are caused usually due to one or more of the following conditions:
(a) Unusually high rainfall in a short period of few hours so that there is a large volume of surface run-off.
(b) Tropical cyclones accompanied by strong winds, high tidal bores causing inundation of coastal regions.
(c) Breach of embankments or bunds of rivers, tanks, canals and other water courses or water spilling over such embankments.
(d) Changes in river courses owing to silting up of old courses.
(e) Inadequate drainage facilities in low-lying areas.
(f) Deforestation of hill slopes leading to greater run-off.
Nearly two-thirds of the flood damage is caused by rivers, while the balance is due to cyclones and heavy rainfall.
Distribution of Flood-prone Areas
- Flood-prone areas are less extensive than drought-prone areas. Floods are more common in areas receiving heavy rainfall. Flood damage is limited to the lowlying areas adjoining river courses or along the coastal regions. Floods may continue for a few days only and the water level may fall below the danger level. Deposition of sand or erosion of embankments may render large areas unfit for cultivation.
- Major Flood prone Areas are
- The Brahmaputra river in the Assam valley
- The Ganga basin and Delta region.
- The Kosi & Tista river basin
- Ravi, Beas & Sutlej river basin
- Jhelum basin
In the Peninsular India
— Mahanadi, Godavari and the Krishna river basin and Delta region
— East Coast by cyclones.
Flood Control Measures
- The national Flood Control Programme was started in 1954. Flood Control Boards have been set up by the states and their work is coordinated by the central Flood Control Board. Flood Control is one of the objectives of the multi purpose projects implemented during the five year plans. A large number of embankments, drainage, channels and flood protection schemes for villages and towns have been set up at important places in major river basins
- The Flood Control Policy envisages there phases for implementing the programme. The immediate phase involves setting up of hydrological stations for collection of data about different stretches of rivers and tributaries, construction of embankments and drainage channels. The short-term phase involves improvement of surface drainage, flood warning systems to be set up, raising levels of villages, construction of embankments, diversion channels and other local measures. The long-term phase is aimed at a study of the ecological factors and preparing a comprehensive plan for not only flood control but also irrigation, power development soil conservation, afforestation of barren slopes, clearance of silt from big channels and canals, etc. Such a plan would ensure overall development of the river basin while adhoc measures to tide over a local situation in a part of the river basin are only temporary solution.
A report published by Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) on July 4, 2001 presents a dismal water scenario. According to it, by 2050 a severe water shortage will hit many parts of the country and 20 to 30 percent of the population in Gujarat, Rajasthan, the Gangetic plains, West Bengal and the North Eastern areas will have practically no water. Though the population will double by 2047, availability of water will remain at 1086 billion cubic meters per year. A further worrying aspect revealed in the reports was that 95% of the water was used for agriculture and that 60% of it is wasted.
Hence when we talk about conservtion of water, we have to look into both the quantitative and qualitative aspects. The reasons both natural and man made are as follows:
(i) Monsoon is unpredictable, varies in persistence and has regional variations insofar as precipitation is concerned. The rainy month is short followed by a generally dry period.
(ii) Free or subsidised electricity means a larger number of boring wells with no backup system for recharging ground water. The result is depletion of ground water and deterioration in its quality.
(iii) In India 95% of our water is used for agriculture and 60% of it is wasted. Also, we are growing more cashcrops like sugarcane which require a more water hence bulk of the water is diverted to these crops leaving others high and dry.
(iv) Most of the people have developed a feeling that water is plenty and is easily available. The government too has failed to evolve a sound strategy through measures like water harvesting, community participation etc.
(v) Both ground and surface water are polluted from industrial effluents, poorly treated sewage and runoff of agricultural chemicals combined with unsatisfactory household and community sanitary conditions. Traces of metallic oxides, arsenic etc. have been reported from many monitoring stations. These are highly toxic.
(vi) By discouraging cultivation of high water requirement crops and substituting them with crops that require less water we can conserve water. Also water pricing and removal of subsidy on electricity would halt over exploitation of and misuse of water resources. Also, losses in distribution network should be checked by raining the distribution efficiency of these networks. Low cost technology should be evolved for improving water conveyance efficiency, application efficiency and thereby irrigation efficiency in to. To avoid evaporation losses usage of pipes for water conveyance should be adopted.
(vii) Water can also be conserved through adoption of novel methods like sea water agriculture and recycling of agricultural drainage. A low cost technology for desalination may solve much of our problem. Novel ideas like linking the Ganga and Brahmputra or the national water grid need to be taken up seriously.
Biodiversity laws in India
The conservation of biodiversity has been woven into constitution through article 48A, one of the directive principles of our state policy which directs the state for protection and improvement of environment including forest, lakes, rivers and wild life. A very strong argument has been to interpret Act 21 constituting right to lie to include right to clean and healthy environment. We have statutes on the issue like water (prevention and control of pollution) Act 1974, water (prevention and control of pollution) case Act 1977, environment protection Act 1986 etc. Some states have enacted personal legislation to protect the environment. Till date there has been no specific law for the explicit protection of grasslands, mountains, deserts, marine ecosystem or on biodiversity conservation. However the govt. realising the vacuum in legislation in this arena and following its obligations under U.N. convention of biodiversity has introduced “Biodiversity Bill 2000” in the parliament . Following are the major highlights of the proposed bill.
- Prohibits transfer of Indian genetic material outside the country, without approval of Indian government.
- Stipulates that patent or other intellectual property rights (IPR) over such material, or even related knowledge can only be taken after seeking permission in advance.
- Provides for buying of appropriate fees and royalties on such transfers and IPRs.
- Regulates access to such materials by Indian nationals also, to stop over-exploitation.
- Provides for sharing of benefits of various kinds, including transfer of technology, monetary returns, joint R & D, venture capital funds, and joint IPR ownership.
- Provides a measure for habitat and species protection. EIAs of projects which could harm biodiversity, integration of boidiversity not all sectorial plans, programmes and policies.
- Gives local communities a say in the use of resources and knowledge within their jurisdiction and to charge fees from parties who want to use the resources and knowledge.
- Provides for the protection of Indigenous knowledge, through appropriate legislation, administrative steps such as registration at local, state and national levels. Stipulates that risks associated with the use of genetically modified organisms, will be controlled through appropriate means.
- Provides for designation of institutions are repositories of biological resources.