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Presidential Speech 2012

                                                                   New Challenges in Water Management                                                               Back

Er. S.D. Shinde

Water resources development and management. Because of the limited rainfall period in India, catering the rain and storing it in small and large reservoirs on the streams and rivers had been admired by the Indian Society as one of the most pious acts. The belief was that anybody who carries out such works has a place reserved for him in the heaven. The result was that India had been studded with millions of tanks and lakes to supply water for domestic needs and for agriculture in a dependable manner. These efforts were also supplemented by numerous wells and canals from the flowing rivulets.

But because of the year to year variability of the monsoon and because the agricultural land has been much more than what can be serviced from the streams and the lakes, bringing large areas under extensive irrigation on an equitable basis had been a social challenge. To overcome this canal water distribution systems like the famous 'PHAD' system of irrigation had been practiced. They withstood the test of time and survived over centuries on account of intrinsic social cohesion formalised through rules and customs. Irrigated agriculture in the Panzra and Curna basins of the Dhulia and Nasik districts of Maharashtra still provide an excellent example of a socially well regulated system of water allocation amongst a large number of farmers on an equitable basis.

Protecting water from abuse and pollution had also been a collective social responsibility to be carried out meticulously. Water in pure and pristine form was respected as 'TEERTH', that elevates human life. Very severe punishments, even a death sentence, had been laid down for the crime of polluting public supplies.