Take the case of the Pambar and Kottakariar rivers in southern Tamil Nadu. Their basin is afflicted by virtually all possible problems–deforestation, rainfall deficit, declining flow, encroached water course, vulnerability to flood and drought, and Sand Mining from the river bed. Tamil Nadu’s fabled water tank (oorani) system, nurtured by flowing rivers and meant for saving up scarce rainfall for later use, was in tatters, silted and often built up.
So, DHAN Foundation, an NGO, with support from Axis Bank Foundation, started revitalizing the water management system in the area in 2011. By renovation of 668 water bodies, an additional storage capacity of 1.55 lakh cubic metres was created, which assured 11,953 families of water for irrigation. Percolation from tanks and ponds rejuvenated over 2,550 borewells, ensuring drinking water to 15,482 families. And, with people managing the resource more efficiently , the two rivers were revitalised. DHAN has now extended this work downstream.
There are many such efforts all over the country . In Rajasthan, the Tarun Bharat Sangh, an NGO led by `Waterman’ Rajinder Singh, has transformed an area in the arid Alwar district by retaining rainfall, recharging wells and revitalizing the streams there.
Forests play an important role in these efforts because of their ability to act as a pump, drawing in warm moisture-laden winds from oceans and nearby water bodies, says K Palanisami of the International Water Management Institute. “For example, in recent years, agro-forestry in Abu Dhabi and Dubai has increased using recycled domestic water, and as a result they get more rains than before,” he told TOI.
In an innovative solution to both waste water disposal and deforestation, Pune-based BAIF Research and Devel 5 opment Foundation (BRDF) used h treated waste water to irrigate eroded barren hillocks at Ghansoli in the Thane-Belapur industrial area of Navi , Mumbai. “In five-six years, the barren 2 hill, spread over 200 hectares, was transformed into a lush green forest, which attracted over 50 species of fauna and promoted eco-tourism,” said Narayan Hegde of BRDF.
Other threats like encroachment n on banks, sand mining, dumping of sewage and effluents need strong governmental intervention through laws and robust implementation. The sad experience of the Ganga and Yamuna Action Plans, which consumed crores n of rupees without much change in o these two rivers’ condition, shows that policies need to be dovetailed with creating awareness and participation. Unbridled commercialization needs to be curbed and rivers made central to planning, with the people who depend on them being part of the process.
“If humanity is desirous of a water secure future, there is no alternative but to let the rivers be. Anything short is living in a fool’s paradise,” says , Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, a campaign to save Yamuna.
Source : timesofindia