Magadh Mahotsava was held alongside with FALGU MUKTI DAYINI PAD YATRA. Falgu is a seasonal river flowing in Magadh region of Bihar. Water doesn’t flow throughout the year but one can always find water by digging few feets of sand. This river has historical and religious importance and is mentioned in many books like Vayu Puran and Valmiki Ramayan. However, the condition of river falgu has deteriorated due to excessive exploitation and pollution. The Pad Yatra was organized to awake the common people and authorities about the present situation of river Falgu in Bihar. Through this, they connect to a mass living in the Falgu river areas and discuss ways to conserve water and which will again fill the esteemed river with clean water. Sri Chandra Mauli along with his team members took the difficult task of informing the common people in the villages situated on the riverside. They started on an Pad Yatra along the sides of river Falgu starting from Simariya dam Chatra and ending in Pbhari. They visited the river on the banks of river Falgu and discussed the present condition of river Falgu and ways of conservation of water. The people themselves were facing many problems due to the shortage of water and they were ready to do whatever they can do to make the river Falgu again filled with water. They were very enthusiastic about such an initiative and many of them joined the Pad Yatra. In a journey of around 322 km around 100 villages were visited and 30,000 people were informed about this situation.
Conservation of Ground water
In India, half of the area of irrigation is utilized with ground water with more than 20 million tube wells. Surface water conservation management is improper as we have lost many lakes and rivers. It is estimated that our country saves 30 days of rain out of 120 days during south-west monsoon (25% of rainfall from other monsoons too included) we receive every year. 65% of irrigated water is used from ground water resource and using this much water we are irrigating only 35% of total area of irrigation of about 160 million hectares. Ground water is an important resource in India, but the annual decline of water table is more than 4 meters all over the country. Inter-linking of rivers leads to increase in the amount of surface water resources and eradicates the usage of ground water for irrigation. The increase in surface water resources leads to increase in the arable area.
Crop productivity and Food security
About 15% of ground water is used for food production every year in our country. Since a small amount of land is irrigated, by interlinking of rivers and increase in irrigation, crop production is improved and food security can be assured. In order to feed the growing population it is estimated that by 2030 the demand for food may increase double the value of 1200 billion cubic meters of water utilization which is not possible with the present already depleted ground water resources
Due to boring holes for ground water under large depths, the water extracted displayed high levels of arsenic, fluoride and other hazardous chemicals. In coastal areas, chances are obvious that contamination of saline water into the fresh ground water. Interlinking of surface water has no or little effects of health due to chemicals.
In the scenario of inter-linking of rivers, it leads to the fullest utilization of irrigation infrastructure available in India which in turn leads to more utilization of human resource and divert many of the jobless youth towards agriculture – the back bone of India.
Waterways – the cost efficient mode of transportation
If we are using water as a mode of transport, loads of materials can transported in comparison with the truck or roadway transportation. We can save our Express ways and national highways from depreciation for years and instead of focusing on maintaining the roads, we can shift our focus towards development of rural and suburban roads and border roads development. Moreover increased use of waterways improves resource movement in addition to road and air freight movement in turn helps in our overall economical growth.
However, considering all the demerits and the demand for water, as a civil engineer, I would rather go for self-sustainable method. Since we are receiving 4000 cubic kilometers of rain annually and our dams have the capacity to hold only 200 cubic meters per person, i will go for increasing the dam reservoir infrastructure state by state in order to avoid wastage of rain water and utilized water without recycling.
Developed countries are strategically saving 900 days of rain water. We can rather increase the rain water storage, if the inter-linking of rivers takes time to start its progress. Rain water harvesting awareness was created in Thamizh Nadu and all the people were advised to install rain water harvesting systems in their homes. But this method didn’t show much progress. Proper drainage systems and waste water management and conservation of rivers and lakes is the best solution to avoid water scarcity and unnecessary implementation of inter-linking of rivers by wasting 5,00,000 crores or more and bearing its demerits and opposition from some of the surplus water owner states due to their doubts about chances of their water resources getting depleted in future.