Millenium issue of DTE


Interview of Union water resources minister


Water harvesting for food and water security
Realisation dawns in Dewas
Citizens of Dehradun unite
Necessity breeds ingenuity


Salinity control


Dugwells: a solution to the arsenic menace?
The arsenic effect





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Vol. 2                                    No. 1                              Feburary 2000

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Interview of Dr C P Thakur, Union water resources minister

Is the role of the union water resources ministry merely that of a "public relation officer?" We invite your comments on this interview.

 Q. The water crisis is deepening in India. Why have you failed to deal with the problem?

Thakur: Countries that have been able to manage their water resources efficiently are much more advanced today than those who have mismanaged it. In India, we have failed to manage water. We have not been able to implement many water-related projects due to opposition from several fronts. Most of the projects today stand incomplete so their costs have escalated manifold. Another major factor is that the role of the water resources ministry is just of a "public relation officer", who liaisons between state governments. All the powers are in the hands of state governments. We must have a coordinated effort to find a solution. We have planned to call members of parliament from all over the country to discuss the water scarcity issue with them. We would seek their views and cooperation, as to how the projects can be implemented in which a huge amount of the country’s money is still locked up.

Q. Do you have any concrete plan to deal with the problem?

Thakur: The National Water Policy adopted by government in 1987 emphasizes that water should be made available to water scarce areas by transfer from other areas including transfers from one river basin to another. Therefore, we have chalked out a plan to bring the water in all the water scarce areas in the country. The plan would require an investment of more than Rs 3,00,000 crore for a period of 25 to 30 years. This National Water Plan would give additional irrigation benefits of 35 million hectares in the country.

Q. How do you see the potential of rainwater harvesting to deal with the problem in India?

Thakur: This would be the priority of my government. Water harvesting concept has shown very good results in areas where it is been implemented properly. We want to promote and encourage this concept. We are planning to call non-governmental organisations and people who are involved in such projects to discuss the concept in detail. We will also chalk out a comprehensive plan in this regard. We want to take a balanced approach to use both big and small projects to deal with the crisis.

Q. You have completely failed to implement the National Water Policy formulated in 1987. Please comment.

Thakur: I agree that there has been a very little implementation of the policy. But we want to discuss this issue with the Prime Minister, who heads the National Water Policy, so that we can get a positive outcome. We are making a proposal in this regard.

Q. What action is the government taking regarding the acute drinking water crisis following severe drought this year?

Thakur: The role of water resources ministry is to make available water in a particular area. Then it becomes the job of department dealing with urban affairs or rural development to utilize the resources and deal with the drinking water or other crises. The success of such projects depends on coordinated efforts by all the ministries such as agriculture, water resources, environment and others.

Reference: C P Thakur, Dec 1999, personal communication.


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Salinity control

Salinity controlMany coastal areas in the India are facing the problem of salinity intrusion, particularly the coasts of Saurashtra peninsula of Gujarat. In coastal areas, an individual pumping the fresh water floating above brackish or saline water has no means of knowing the optimal rate of pumping to avoid the incursion of saline water in his well. The Salinity Controlling Device, developed by the National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, can be used in such a situation to prevent inadvertent contamination of a well. The device continuously monitors the conductivity of water discharged by a well and has a provision for presetting the conductivity value to a desired level. If the conductivity is set at, say 1500 Mhos, then if the water coming into the well crosses this value, this device has a relay system for tripping the power supply and stopping the pump. These devices can be installed on wells in areas vulnerable to salinity intrusion, to prevent over-extraction and to monitor the ingress of saline water.

National Geophysical Research Institute
Uppal Road
Hyderabad – 500 007