Drought And Deluge: Conflict and the Solution

July 13, 2019 , 0 Comments

Drought And Deluge

Contrasting images…. 

The bizarre fact is that both images are not only from the same state of Maharashtra but also are contemporary. One side Mumbai is facing deluge and on the other side, there is a drought-like condition in the Marathwada region wherein people don't even have sufficient water for daily needs. Ask anyone and they will promptly reply that the solution is rainwater harvesting. However, there lies the issue -

a) Who is responsible for creating an infrastructure for rainwater harvesting? 


b) What is the most effective solution? 

Let's deal with each question:

Who is responsible for creating an infrastructure for rainwater harvesting?

In the typical bureaucratic style of functioning, Government departments issue directives that all new housing societies will be required to develop a rainwater harvesting facility. The government here is merely shifting the responsibility to the citizens. While in reality, considering the situation, it is the government that should undertake large scale water harvesting measures. 

This automatically takes us to the next question that is “What is the most effective solution?”

In my humble view, such directives to housing societies are grossly ineffective and merely hogwash considering that millions of gallons of rainwater are getting wasted and pushed out to sea. How much water can a few of the housing societies save? A droplet in the ocean. Some readers will parrot the famous saying "boond boond se banta sagar". However, given the condition, substantially larger and impactful steps need to be taken. We need to ensure that a limited amount of freshwater is pushed out to the sea be it rainwater or river water. 

Hence am suggesting two of the many possible large scale solutions which government should swiftly undertake:

1. Connect Mumbai's stormwater drains with the large storage facility

Mumbai's most unique infrastructure amongst Indian cities is its widespread out stormwater drain network. They are meant to pump rainwater out to the sea. Propose that the stormwater drain be connected to a pipeline and the rainwater (post-initial few showers of rain) is pumped to a new large lake outside the city. A basic treatment of the facility shall be created at the proposed lake and thereafter the water be pumped across to drier parts i.e. Marathwada where water can be taken to the existing dams or new lake can be created to store the water. 

While many will find this quite elaborate but it certainly pales in front of the water scarcity and projects like Kaleshwaram (wherein we are pumping river water).

2. Collecting River Water (Ultra Long Term Solution) but we need to start now – Point in the case in Kalpasar Project

‘Kalpasar’ means a lake that fulfills all the wishes. The word originating from Hindu mythological ‘Kalpa Vriksha’– wishing tree.

This project will resolve four vital problems of the State of Gujarat which are water, electrical power, road-rail transport and development of ports. 

Kalpasar project aims at the creation of a freshwater coastal reservoir in the Gulf of Khambhat by the construction of a dam connecting the east and west bank of the Gulf. In the reservoir, the runoff from Sabarmati, Mahi, Dhadar, and Narmada will be stored, together with the waters from the Saurashtra rivers discharging into the Gulf of Khambhat. The stored waters are to be used for irrigation, domestic and industrial water requirements in the Saurashtra region. Kalpasar is considered the evident solution for solving the short as well as in the long term the threatening drinking and irrigation water problems in Saurashtra.

A 10 lane road link will also be set up over the dam, greatly reducing the distance between Saurashtra and South Gujarat.

Once the Gulf is closed, water levels within the reservoir can be controlled while the tidal fluctuation outside the reservoir continues and, hence, can be harnessed for the generation of tidal energy.

In addition to freshwater storage and tidal power generation, Kalpasar also aims at land reclamation, transportation improvements, and fisheries development. 

The cost of the project is estimated at ₹90,000 crores (as of 2017). 

Project history:

Gulf of Khambhat was identified as a promising site for tidal power generation by UNDP Expert, Mr. Eric Wilson in the year 1975. Successive governments were then presented in detail the possibility of a project, aptly named Kalpasar Project by its visionary Dr. Anil Kane, who conceptualized it in the 80s as a feasible project. In 1988-89 a reconnaissance report was prepared for the dam across the Gulf of Khambhat. The report concluded that assuming sound foundation conditions, the closure of the Gulf was technically feasible. Studies are still going on and the length of the proposed dam is reduced and the tidal power component is dropped. 

In 2004, Narendra Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat, had inaugurated work on the Kalpasar Dam project. 

Sadly no progress has been made and the project languishes. After 21 pre-feasibility reports, 10 on-going studies and 19 more in the pipeline, Gujarat’s Kalpasar project yet to see the light of day. Sadly State Government has made the budget allocation of only Rs 130 Cr in the recent budget of FY20 towards the Project. 

It is clear that successive Governments have shown apathy towards the project considering the longer time frame and large capital outlays. Only wish that considering BJP government both at Center & State and a Gujarat CM, this project were given due importance. There are very few projects, which can meet the water requirement of the entire state. 

Some will question the selection of the proposal/project that has been shared here. I can only state these are only two of the many large scale projects that can be undertaken to save water – every drop of water. 

In the end, I will reiterate that we now need to undertake large scale, long term projects before it is too late. Just imagine, if Kalpasar project were complete by now and one of the generally arid states was water sufficient? Just imagine!! 


PS: This is an original article, any copy or plagiarism is seriously condemned. Please take the author's permission for any kind of reproduction or so.

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