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Trans Boundary Basins Co-operation For Strengthening Water Flow : A Case Study From India

Congress: 2015
Author(s): S Sharma (Dehradun, India)


Keyword(s): Sub-theme 12: Transboundary river basins and shared aquifers,
AbstractIntroduction : Water is the primary input for the agricultural and industrial prosperity. India, being an agrarian country, requires. Nearly 70% of the water resources for its agricultural activities specially in the northern part of India, the Indo -- Gangetic plain which is densely populated owing to fertile land. The soil is fertile as the perennial rivers Ganga and Yamuna flowing of all along the Indo-Gangetic plain renew the soil every year by the material brought from the Himalayas. India is surrounded in the west by Pakistan, in the north by Nepal and Bhutan and in the east by Bangladesh. These are all mountainous regions of the Himalayas and its lower ranges that run from Pakistan in the Northwest to India in North and Northeast, Eastern Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet. All these countries form part of Asia which is the world's largest continent both in area and population. It has a large variation of topography, climate and precipitation and as a result also groundwater resources vary across Asia. Inter-basin water transfers are complex human interventions on natural systems that can have profound adverse as well as beneficial social, economic and environmental implications. Water deficit can be reduced through improved water management without large scale engineering interventions. Moreover many of the rivers involved, particularly in the Himalayan component, are international and, therefore, has major implications for other riparian. Sharing of rivers is expected to greatly reduce the regional imbalance in the availability of water in different river basins in India with its neighboring countries. Methods/Materials : The trans boundary flow of rivers to / from India in Indian sub-continent forming trans boundary aquifers between India and Pakistan, India and Nepal, India and Bhutan and between India and Bangladesh. Nearly 600 million people living in this huge region are geographically dispersed and culturally diverse, yet they share crucial cultural, economic and social characteristics: hill agriculture, physical mobility, relatively egalitarian social structures, as well as commonalities in material culture and outlook. National borders often appear utterly arbitrary to them. However, all these countries are also agro-based where agriculture is the mainstay. In these countries too, the soil is fertile and renewed every year by the material brought by the perennial rivers originating in one country and flowing through another country such as river Indus and its tributaries originating from the glaciers of Himalayas in India and flowing through Pakistan ; river Mahakali, Kosi and its tributaries originating in Nepal and flowing through India ; river Padma and its tributaries originating in India and flowing through Bangladesh and river Thimbu and its tributaries originating in Bhutan and flowing through India. All these countries being agrarian countries need water for agriculture and this trans-boundary water flow thus needed a cooperation among these countries for judicious sharing and strengthening of water resources. Groundwater plays an important role, amongst others in irrigated agriculture and for domestic purposes. Correspondingly, groundwater demand has markedly increased in the past 30 years. The practice of performing groundwater assessments however is not as widespread as desired so there are many opportunities to improve quality of life by promoting sustainable groundwater management practices. This led to the establishment of number of treaties and agreements between India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh to serve as a catalyst between the Governments to share the water resources, a life line for all these nations. Results and Discussion : The rainfall over the country is primarily orographic, associated with tropical depressions originating in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The summer monsoon accounts for more than 85 per cent of the precipitation. The uncertainty of occurrence of rainfall marked by prolonged dry spells and fluctuations in seasonal and annual rainfall is a serious problem for the country. Large parts of Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are not only in deficit in rainfall but also subject to large variations, resulting in frequent droughts and causing immense hardship to the population and enormous loss to the nation. The water availability even for drinking purposes becomes critical, particularly in the summer months as the rivers dry up and the ground water recedes. Regional variations in the rainfall lead to situations when some parts of the country do not have enough water even for raising a single crop. Therefore, the country needs the trans boundary co-operation for strengthening the water flow to resolve the mismatch of water availability and the demand. The long as well short term benefits are : Mitigation of Droughts, Flood Control, Domestic & Industrial Water Supply, Navigational Facilities, Employment Generation, Fisheries, Salinity Control, Pollution Control, Recreation Facilities, Infrastructural Development, Socio -- Economic Development. Conclusion : These water sharing agreements have helped in reducing water borne tensions between the neighboring states on one hand and ensured water security on other hand. The agreements are being reviewed from time to time by the government of India and its counterpart for their successful continuation and implementation for the socio -- economic development of the region. Khalequzzaman, M., Srivastava, P.,Faruque, F.S. (2004). The Indian River-linking project: Hydrologic, Ecologic and sociao-economic perspective. Regional Cooperation on Tran - boundary Rivers, 78-90. Radhakrishna, B.P. (2003). Linking major rivers of India. Journal of the geological Society of India, vol 61, 252 Singh, B (2005) A big dream of little logic. The Hindustan Times, 15th June, 2005, 2-3.
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