most parts of the world, the priorities for water usage
are first drinking water, then industrial use and finally
agriculture. Unfortunately there is no such clarity amongst
policy makers. There is neither a sensible nor broadly acceptable
plan for utilization of these scarce water resources.
at what is happening in Hyderabad. Faced with acute water
shortages in the past few years, the government has devised
a grandiose plan to bring Krishna waters to the city through
a pipeline. The estimated outlay for the project is a whopping
Rs 2600 crores. This project is supposed to cater to the
needs of the twin cities and the neighbouring nine municipalities.
It proposes to bring water either from the Srisailam Left
Bank Canal, the Akkampalli balancing reservoir or the yet
to take off Sunkesula Lift Irrigation scheme. Any of these
schemes will be an expensive proposition, and the consumer
will end up paying a hefty price. Given the high capital
cost, maintenance of machinery and pipelines, cost of lifting
water, and wastages, the cost per kilolitre of water is
likely to be around Rs 40. That would mean that an average
household will spend more for water than electricity! A
sensible alternative would be to buy out the riparian rights
from the farmers under the Singur reservoir and use it exclusively
for drinking water purposes. And we can also think of drawing
water from Almatti in Karnataka, involving minimal lift.
This can be a win-win solution for both states.
the bigger question that the policy makers are not answering
is for how many people/industries can we provide all the
infrastructural facilities in a city like Hyderabad? Most
industrial activity in this state is concentrated in and
around Hyderabad. The city is already bursting at its seams
and will simply collapse if this growth is allowed to continue
unhindered. The answer lies in creating quality satellite/magnet
townships with all infrastructure and connect them with
modern urban transport systems. Take Warangal, the second
largest city in Telangana. The only other municipality in
Warangal district is Jangam!
are a water-poor country when compared to Europe, Southeast
Asia or the Americas. And most rainfall is during monsoons
and cyclones, allowing rapid runoff and flooding. But if
we harness even the available water well, there is enough
for our requirements. There are three broad approaches we
need to follow, or else the coming decades may yet see water
riots and enormous suffering.
we have to conserve as much rain water as we can by soil
conservation practices and water harvesting structures.
And water-saving devices and practices must be internalized
through sensible pricing and public education. Second, we
need to relook at human settlements and urbanization. Throughout
history, civilizations flourished along watercourses. It
is cheaper and more sensible to encourage growth and urbanization
close to major rivers, than to lift water from great distances
to meet the needs of people and industry.
we must build adequate storage capacity across major rivers
to meet the growing needs of our economy. Inter-state disputes
and mindless opposition to dams are only leading to water-crisis.
A national water policy must recognize a river valley as
a natural unit for water sharing, ignoring political boundaries.
Water only flows downstream, and does not respect man-made
divisions or partisan politics. And, we have to recognize
that water storage through dams ultimately improves tree
cover and ecology, even as our growing needs are met.