On April 20, hundreds of farmers from 25 villages in the Cuddalore district blocked the Chennai-Kumbakonam road in protest. Their plea is not for roads or rights or grand things. Their fight is for their very survival – their water.
The ongoing battle for water in villages across India underlines a crucial issue. Agriculture has been the lifeline for lakhs of Indian farmers. Groundwater has played a vital role in irrigating water-hungry crops that feed India’s ever-growing population. Unfortunately for the past few decades, India has been grappling with intense and rapid depletion of groundwater stores driven by over-extraction, and extreme climatic changes. For the next few minutes let’s look at an overview of the groundwater table situation in India to see the extent of the problem. Though the situation is dire, thankfully there are measures that can be put in place to rectify the issue. We will consider what they are as well.
Ground Realities of India
Groundwater is the largest of freshwater sources along with soil moisture, surface waters like rivers and lakes. Last year Kerala saw a depletion of reservoir levels by 62%, Tamil Nadu by 63%, and Telangana by 60%. According to the same report, all these states have a rainfall deficit of 48%, 33%, and 37% respectively. During the period of 2017-2018, it was also reported that more than 60% of water levels fell in most wells including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
The Cuddalore protests were sparked by water being directed away from their villages. Chennai the sixth-largest city in India, with a population of nearly 1 crore, has almost run out of water. The consequences are far-reaching. It has hit food supplies causing prices to soar and fuel social unrest. With the municipal taps working only a few hours a week, residents are forced to buy water. The government has arranged for two trains to carry 50 lakh liters of water per day from villages. What has this led to? “We cannot even bathe our newborn grandchild,” says a resident of one of the villages.“The cattle in this village are also dying of thirst.”
It may seem like the villagers have no other alternative than to abandon ship and move to the cities, but the situation isn’t a lost cause yet! There is hope.
What is a sustainable solution?
Water is considered an everlasting free source that could be acquired naturally.
- Rainwater harvesting: Though this potential largely remains untapped, rainwater harvesting is now gaining more recognition as a sustainable alternative for other options because it is economically viable, environmentally friendly, and socially compatible. Rainwater harvesting reduces pressure on the groundwater sources and can even replenish groundwater sources.
- Harvest water from the air: Air is an abundant source of freshwater and contains water vapor that condenses to create dew, mist, and rain. The focus of Aeronero has been to build technology that uses moisture from the air to provide clean and fresh drinking water. It is proving to be a low-cost, efficient method to collect water.
Clearly, it is time to look for sustainable alternatives for groundwater. We can address the challenge of providing sustainable water efficiently through rainwater harvesting and through the latest methods of collecting water from the air. Give us a call to see how we can make a difference together.