First India Water Week Focuses on Water-Energy-Food Nexus

Posted: 2012-05-22

Under the theme, “Water, Energy and Food Security: Call for Solutions”, more than 1,000 water professionals from India and abroad participated in the first India Water Week in April, in New Delhi. In an indication of the role of water as of critical importance to economic prosperity, the week was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. (Photo: GWP Executive Secretary Dr Ania Grobicki)

Dr. Ania Grobicki, GWP Executive Secretary,  Mr. Chaminda Rajapakse, Senior Network Officer, Prof. S R Hashim, President of GWP India, and Dr. Veena Khanduri, Executive Secretary, participated as Chairs and key speakers, in addition to present and former Board Members of GWP India.

The Ministry of Water Resources, under the leadership of Mr. Pawan Kumar Bansal, has decided to celebrate India Water Week annually to provide a platform for water solutions and to bring policy makers, industry leaders, experts, professionals and practitioners together to address challenges and showcase technologies.

Mr. A D Mohile, former GWP India Board Member, was Chairman for the sub-theme “Integrated Water Resources Management” and Dr. Ania Grobicki, Executive Secretary, GWP was the Co-Chairman. Dr Grobicki presented views on the IWRM process which require prioritizing and sequencing actions to achieve short, medium and long term objectives. She also emphasized that GWP Partnerships can support this process as neutral platforms for collaboration, bringing groups together to define common agendas and develop and implement plans for action. “Integrated approaches to water resources development, management and use remain a critical element for sustainable development. Integration requires horizontal inter linkages among sectors (water, food, energy and environment) as well as the need for protection against water related conflicts and disasters. Hence continued effort is required to strengthen the institutional framework at all levels”, Dr Grobicki concluded.

Prof. S R Hashim, GWP India President was co-Charing the sub- theme “Water for Food Security” noting that India’s per capita net availability of food grains has declined. And yet, the population is less poor and people are definitely less hungry now than they were in the decades of sixties and seventies. The food basket has diversified significantly with the rising incomes of the country. Projections of food grain requirements will therefore have to take some of these realities into account. India may still need to produce around 400 million tonnes of food grains by the middle of 21st century which will put a lot of strain on the available water resources in the country. Food security and rural livelihoods are intrinsically linked to water availability and use. Food security is determined by the options people have to secure access to their own agricultural production and exchange opportunities. These opportunities are influenced by the access to water. Many regions in India are already facing water deficits; any further decline in water resources will greatly impact food and livelihood security.

GWP India also organized a Side Event on “Approach of Draft National Water Policy-2012 in context of Climate Change” at the Central Board of Irrigation and Power, New Delhi on 13 April, 2012 with the participation of 70 experts/water professionals/ engineers from the Central Water Commission, National Water Development Agency, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, representatives of Department of Water Resources of different States of India, Planning Commission, Govt. of India, GWP India Partners including board members. The purpose of the side event was to discuss how far the DNWP 2012 addresses the issues of storage of water, agricultural system that maximizes use of water and stakeholders’ participation and institutional arrangements in the context of climate change.

Emphasizing that adaptation strategies could be to increase storage, improve soil conservation and adopt compatible agriculture strategies, and cropping system to meet the climate variability, GWP Senior Network Officer Mr. Chaminda Rajapakse mentioned that “Climate change is likely to increase the variability of water resources affecting human health & livelihood of community. Therefore special impetus to enhance the capacity of community to meet the challenge at local level by adopting climate resilient technologies is required”.

Dr. D M More, Former Director General R & D and Technical Advisor, Water Resources Department. Govt. of Maharashtra, said that India’s first water policy of 1987 was revised in 2002 and it is now again being revised in 2012. Drying of rivers and streams, continuous declination in ground water level, poor efforts towards recharge to ground water, pollution of ground water and lakes, rivers turning into dirty drains on account of discharge of untreated liquid as well as solid waste, unabated encroachment into natural river courses, poor maintenance of water infrastructure, low water use efficiency, low productivity of water and land, are the few flaws and gaps observed even after these policies were adopted. “The new policy is very comprehensive and has proposed some important changes, like, need to modify the Indian Easements Act 1882, contract for construction of projects to have inbuilt provision of maintenance of infrastructure and so on. The priorities cannot be same for all the basins/sub basins across the country. These hydraulic units vary widely in regard to water availability, climate, land, cropping pattern, industrial development and so on. This is a basin/sub basin specific issue and decision could be influenced by the views of the stakeholders’/users together”, Dr More said.

Prof. Vijay Paranjpye criticized the view that increasing larger storages will be the panacea for decreasing the impacts of climate change. While increasing storages can respond to some like increasing or changing locations of aridity, they are not likely to answer many of the other impacts of climate change.

In terms of institutional changes, it was pointed out that merely putting into place water user associations and such other societies can touch barely 15-20% of the irrigated areas where canal irrigation is possible, and therefore it is not an adequate institutional measure for responding to climate change. Since most states have more than 60% of area devoid of canal irrigation schemes, a totally different institutional system will be required, e.g. association of riverine fishing communities which looks at the impact of disappearing water front’s or natural riverine lakes. Similarly, associations of farmers in the rain-fed agricultural areas would need to be given technical support for responding to longer dry spells.


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