Prelims Level
Mains Level
Prelims Syllabus : Mains Syllabus : GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
  • An assessment commissioned by the World Bank which submitted to the Central Water Commission found that Ganga river basin could see crop failures rise three-fold and drinking water shortage go up by as much as 39% in some States between now and 2040.

About:

  • The report on the future of the Ganga basin comes at a time when experts have raised concerns over the lack of adequate safeguards to ensure the river’s health. The government has committed to reduce pollution in the Ganga by 70% by March 2019.

Finding:

  • If there is no intervention, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are likely to see a deficit in irrigation water of 28%, 10%, 10% and 15% respectively in 2040 as compared to the current levels.
  • Madhya Pradesh would see a 39%, Delhi 22% and Uttar Pradesh a 25% deficit in drinking water during the same period, the assessment released earlier this week noted.
  • The basin provides over a third of India’s available surface water and contributes more than half the national water use, of which 90% is for irrigation.
  • The report warned that volume of extracted groundwater is expected to more than double, leading to an increase in the critical blocks. Low flow values in the rivers are predicted to decline compared to present levels. Water quality and environmental flow conditions already critical will deteriorate further.
  • The report is based on a modelling study that simulates river flow, water quality and groundwater levels in the different States and regions within the Ganga river basin.
  • To extrapolate, the model considered land use, infrastructure, population, industry and agriculture settings as well as the precipitation and temperature settings.
  • The aim of the report was to strengthen the capacity for strategic basin planning, develop a set of scenarios for the development of the Ganga basin and build a strong and accessible knowledge base.

Concern:

  • The report on the future of the Ganga basin comes at a time when experts have raised concerns over the lack of adequate safeguards to ensure the river’s health. The government has committed to reduce pollution in the Ganga by 70% by March 2019.
  • There aren’t any easy solutions, the report cautioned, pointing out that there is no ‘silver bullet’ intervention that can solve all problems. Combinations of different interventions such as increasing water use efficiency and implementing a ‘more job per drop’ rather than striving for wholesale crop production are needed.

Way Forward:

  • There aren’t any easy solutions to overcome the crisis, the report cautioned pointing out that there is no ‘silver bullet’ intervention that can solves all problems. Combinations of different interventions such as increasing water use efficiency and implementing a ‘more job per drop’ rather than striving for wholesale crop production are needed, it said.
  • The intervention that will result in the most beneficial impact is improvement of municipal waste water treatment. Whether central or de-central, whether high or low tech, reduction in pollution loads provides a positive return on investment both in availability of clean water for downstream uses, including ecosystem services, as well as a drastic reduction in water-related illnesses and deaths.
  • Environmentalists say reducing pollution in the Ganga hinges on setting up sewage plants rather than ensuring that the natural flow of the river is not blocked, as that would hobble its propensity to clean itself.
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