Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Out through the mouth!

88*28.317*3600 = 8970825.6
This is the amount of water that flowed into the sea in a day from the Godavari river! In words, that is nine million liters of water. Nine million! In just one day, 88 cubic feet of water rushed into the sea per second from the river. And the figure is just calculated over just one hour. Not two months ago, in the same regions that the Godavari flows through, 25 trains carrying a total of 5 million liters of water were busy trying to moisten the drought dead lands. Politicians and activists were debating whether the Indian Premier League should be held at all or no, as a solution to tackle the drought. Surprisingly and not so surprisingly, not many seem to bat an eye and the river is interested only in mixing with the salty sea water.

Well, what would one expect? The Indian cricket team is in the West Indies and ProKabaddi does not seem to need any water to maintain its 'turf.' Politicians are busy solving their conflicts over river water sharing but not the flood water management. Courts are busy deciding under whose jurisdiction justice falls into. People in the lower regions of the river and near the delta are anyway used to displacement due to floods. Be it Assam or East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, people expect floods every now and then. Why should they be deprived of their habits? Governments are happy to spend a little sum on effective displacement of those people. For benefits to be reaped every five years, there should be such floods every two years at least. Rivers like Brahmaputra and Godavari are difficult to control. There have been irrigation projects on them but no flood management projects. Is there no way to save all that water from going waste? Ground water levels are low with land ready to absorb any amount of water and hold like a sponge, reservoirs are at dead storage levels with dams strong enough to hold water to the fullest. Surely there can be ways found to use the flood water.

It is very sad to note that the Jayakwadi dam which serves the Marathwada region which was plagued by the drought is still running at its lowest water levels. Also, the Ujjani dam on Bhima river near Solapur has a huge capacity which was not completely utilized during the floods. River water has many uses. Irrigation is only one of them. Catchment areas are useful for groundwater replenishment and water diversion as well. If canals cannot be constructed for diverting flood water to smaller tanks for irrigation, there are other methods like lift irrigation which can be used to divert water to wherever needed. When states have MoUs between them about river water sharing, certainly they could discuss possible flood management solutions.

The Jayakwadi dam is the largest irrigation dam in Maharshtra and is not full

The solution could be anything. Multiple river integration is a distant dream. For now, probably the thermal power plants, papermills and sugarcane factories could be where the flood water is diverted to, a jump from the usual in which water meant for irrigation is diverted to those places. It is quite easy to do so because the infrastructure to divert water to those places is already there, unlike cultivated land. How much hydro electric energy can be derived from the floods while keeping them at check. What about small check dams at strategic places? For once, low cost projects which help people rather than contractor alone can be constructed. Have we forgotten how to make barrages? That is probably a good solution. Should the nine million liters only enter the sea along with hundreds of homes and property? Can there be no canals dug only for flood crisis? Or maybe not. Because when there are no floods, these canals will be used as dumping areas only aggravating the flood!!

In the words of Amitav Ghosh, "Solutions to such problems cannot be dealt at individual level. Government alone can take initiative when it comes to disaster management."