Stress Test - The Need For Water Management Reforms: The Hindu Editorial

Stress Test - The Need For Water Management Reforms: The Hindu Editorial

On the cusp of the southwest monsoon, several arid States are hoping to revive their rivers and reservoirs with bountiful rain. One of them is Gujarat, which is roiled by the long-tail effect of a deficit monsoon between August and November last year. The State government has embarked on a labour-intensive programme to desilt rivers and waterbodies ahead of the rains. Its predicament reflects the larger reality of drought in India, aggravated by heat waves and significant rain deficits in different regions. This year’s fall in reservoir storage levels to below-average levels has affected farmers who depend on the Sardar Sarovar dam, and 27 other reservoirs including those in Madhya Pradesh. A reinvigorated Congress in the opposition has turned the heat on the BJP government in Gujarat, which is hard put to defend itself against the charge that dam waters were depleted merely to fill the Sabarmati river for a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December, when he undertook a seaplane journey on the river. Its response has been to roll out a campaign to deepen waterbodies on the one hand, and arrange religious events to propitiate the gods on the other. But it has had to prioritise drinking water needs over farming, and suspend irrigation supply from the dam on March 15. This year, Delhi has been at loggerheads with Haryana over reduction of water released in the Yamuna, highlighting growing stresses over a vital resource. Urgent water management reforms must be undertaken to help citizens and avoid losses to the economy. In a normal year, the pre-monsoon phase from March 1 brings some respite and India gets about 130 mm of precipitation before the rainy season begins. This year began with a sharp 50% deficit, but touched near-normal levels, though not in the north western region. The monsoon itself is highly variable. This underscores the need for comprehensive reforms at the level of States, with the Centre helping to conserve hydrological resources. If Gujarat improves rural water storage structures and creates many small wetlands beyond the compulsions of politics, it can ensure long-term prosperity for thousands of villages in Saurashtra, Kutch and the northern region where pumps run dry with unfailing regularity. Farmers will get relief from the monsoon vagaries that affect the Narmada, whose waters are apportioned among four States. There is also the challenge of reducing demand for farming, given that the Mihir Shah Committee estimated public irrigation efficiency to be a low 35%. Farmers need to be helped with the latest technologies to cut water use. The State government is thinking of going in for desalinationDecentralised water storage too will help cities like Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara when water supply from large dams and other sources dwindles. If climate change is going to influence monsoon vigour and availability in coming years, the time to take action is now.

1) Cusp
Meaning: The dividing line between two very different things.
Example: On the cusp of adulthood.
2) Arid
Meaning: (of land or a climate) having little or no rain; too dry or barren to support vegetation.
Example: “the arid plains north of Cape Town”
Synonyms: Dry, Thirsty
Antonyms: Wet, Fertile
3) Bountiful
Meaning: Large in quantity; abundant.
Example: “the ocean provided a bountiful supply of fresh food”
Synonyms: Abundant, Plentiful
Antonyms: Meagre
4) Roiled
Meaning: To (cause to) move quickly in a twisting circular movement.
Example: Fierce winds roiled the sea.
5) Long-tail
Meaning: Happening a long time after the start of an insurance agreement, or taking a long time to be decided.
Example: This has paved the way for the company to handle old, long-tail claims.
6) Embarked on
Meaning: To start something new or important.
Example: We’re embarking upon a new project later this year.
Synonyms: Starting, Beginning
7) Labour-intensive
Meaning: Industries and methods that are labour-intensive need a lot of workers.
Example: A lot of farming techniques have been abandoned because they were too labour-intensive.
8) Desilt (River)
Meaning: Desilting refers to the removal of earthy materials, fine sand etc., carried by running water and deposited as a sediment. … Dredging refers to the clearing of the bed of rivers or are of water by scooping out mud, weeds like unwanted materials.
9) Predicament
Meaning: A difficult, unpleasant, or embarrassing situation.
Example: “the club’s financial predicament”
Synonyms: Mess, Difficulty
10) Aggravated
Meaning: Make (a problem, injury, or offence) worse or more serious.
Example: “military action would only aggravate the situation”
11) Reinvigorated
Meaning: Give new energy or strength to.
Example: “we are fully committed to reinvigorating the economy of the area”
12) Depleted
Meaning: Use up the supply or resources of.
Example: “fish stocks are severely depleted”
Synonyms: Exhaust, Consume
Antonyms: Augment, Increase
13) Seaplane
Meaning: An aircraft with floats or skis instead of wheels, designed to land on and take off from water.
14) Roll out
Meaning: To make a new product, service, or system available for the first time.
Example: A media campaign is expected to roll out early next year.
Synonyms: Introduce, Start
15) Propitiate
Meaning: Win or regain the favour of (a god, spirit, or person) by doing something that pleases them.
Example: “the pagans thought it was important to propitiate the gods with sacrifices”
16) Loggerheads
Meaning: To strongly disagree (with someone).
Example: The party is at loggerheads with the president over public spending.
Synonyms: Disagree, Arguing
17) Respite
Meaning: A short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.
Example: “the refugee encampments will provide some respite from the suffering”
Synonyms: Interval, Intermission
18) Precipitation
Meaning: Rain, snow, sleet, or hail that falls to or condenses on the ground.
Example: “these convective processes produce cloud and precipitation”
19) Underscores
Meaning: To emphasize the importance something.
Example: The need for fire detectors in cargo bays was underscored by some accidents in the 1980s.
20) Comprehensive
Meaning: Of large content or scope; wide-ranging.
Example: “a comprehensive collection of photographs”
Synonyms: Inclusive, Complete
Antonyms: Partial, Selective
21) Prosperity
Meaning: The state of being prosperous.
Example: “a long period of peace and prosperity”
Synonyms: Wealth, Success
Antonyms: Hardship, Failure
22) Vagaries
Meaning: An unexpected and inexplicable change in a situation or in someone’s behaviour.
Example: “the vagaries of the weather”
Synonyms: Quirk, Oddity
23) Apportioned
Meaning: Divide up and share out.
Example: “voting power will be apportioned according to contribution”
Synonyms: Allocate, Distribute
24) Desalination
Meaning: The process of removing salt from seawater.
Example: “the newly constructed plant for the desalination of seawater remains inoperative”
25) Decentralised
Meaning: Transfer (authority) from central to local government.
Example: “Canada has one of the most decentralized governments in the world”
26) Dwindles
Meaning: Diminish gradually in size, amount, or strength.
Example: “traffic has dwindled to a trickle”
Synonyms: Diminish, Decrease
Antonyms: Increase, Flourish
27) Vigour
Meaning: Effort, energy, and enthusiasm.
Example: “they set about the new task with vigour”
Synonyms: Good condition, Robustness
Antonyms: Weakness

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