Rejuvenate Small Water Bodies

Rejuvenate Small Water Bodies

 The Water and Related Statistics (2021) published by the Central Water Commission (CWC) of India, mentions that one out of three people will live in a water-stressed area by 2025.
 Despite the concerns, small water bodies which have been supporting the agriculture and domestic requirement of water for many years in India are fast vanishing now. So, there is an urgent need to augment the water supply wherever possible to avert the looming water crisis.

Significance of small water bodies:
 SWBs can provide easy access to water for domestic needs, animal husbandry, drinking water and agriculture particularly in rural areas. This will promote water security.
 SWBs are low cost to construct and maintain when compared to large dams etc.
 They are useful for irrigation and aquaculture, providing a reliable source of water for farming activities. This can help increase crop yields and support livelihoods for farmers.
 They recharge groundwater levels.
 Existence of SWBs ensure women do not have to travel distant places to fetch water.
 They may help to reduce flood control by capturing and storing excess water.

What are threats faced by SWBs?
 SWBs such as lakes, ponds, and streams are under constant threat due to encroachment on their catchment areas.
 Small water bodies require regular maintenance to keep them healthy and functional. However, due to limited resources, these bodies are often neglected and left to deteriorate.
 Exposed to pollution from other sources such as agriculture runoff, sewage, industrial waste etc.
 They are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation due to land use changes, such as urbanization, deforestation. This consequently results in loss of biodiversity.
 Small water bodies can be overused and exploited for a variety of purposes, such as irrigation, drinking water, recreation, and fisheries. It can lead to depletion of water resources, degradation of water quality, and declines in biodiversity.

Way Forward
 Encroachment on water bodies can be made cognizable offence.
 Understanding the dying state of SWBs, a separate Ministry for Small Water Bodies should be created with adequate funding to conduct periodic repair and rehabilitation works.
 Farmers must voluntarily come forward to set up a tank users’ organisation and undertake the repairing of SWBs, as followed earlier under the age-old Kudimaramathu system. (Kudiramaramathu literally means maintenance and repairs of waterbody by people. Kudi means farmer/people, maramathu means repair.)
 Prevent discharge of harmful effluents from entering SWB’s.
 Raising public awareness about the importance of small water bodies can help to generate support for their protection. 

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