Abundant water, but will it be used carefully?

By Times Of India on 01 Oct 2017 | read
Done | Divya T

Aurangabad: With the 102-TMC capacity Jayakwadi dam hitting full storage, experts have raised concerns about the proper utilization of the live storage of 76 TMC of water. Live storage is the amount of water in a reservoir which can be utilized.

Referring to various reports, experts have cited the example of Israel where 90% of the water used in households in desalinated seawater. In addition to this, 95% of the waste water generated in Israel is recycled. In the Marathwada region, however, barely 1% of the sewage is recycled and reused.

Pradeep Purandare, former professor, Water and Land Management Institutes (WALMI), told TOI that the region can benefit immensely with the amount of water available, provided the standard operating procedures (SOP) of the water resources department (WRD) are implemented in spirit. "If a mechanism is put in place to recycle waste water and divert it for irrigation, we will save a huge amount of water and also reduce our dependency on rainfall," said Purandare.

According to Purandare, the WRD's standard operating procedures demand simultaneous action on three fronts: water budgeting, water-demand collection and canal maintenance. "Unfortunately, this has not been done simultaneously since the dam was constructed," said Purandare.

The WRD has often faced criticism from activists and civil society for its failure in implementing the SOPs resulting in poor water management and governance.

Economist and professor H M Desarda said that the WRD is keen on the construction and repair of the irrigation projects, since this involves a considerable amount of money. Desarda, also a former member of the state planning commission, has demanded that irrigation department authorities be held accountable for proper water management to ensure better results.

The command area development, under Jayakwadi dam, comprises 1,900km of channels which irrigate about 1.83 lakh hectares of land. Most of these water channels, however, are in an poor condition resulting in a huge loss of water, experts have said.

According to Purandare, Israel, has 65 TMC of freshwater at its disposal and uses this judiciously due to which agriculture has flourished and is one of the major contributors to the country's economy. In comparison to this, the Jayakwadi dam has a total storage capacity of 102 TMC, of which 76 TMC is live storage and 26 TMC is dead storage. Due to the high temperature in the Marathwada region, an average of 13 TMC of water gets evaporated. Even so, going by these numbers, Jayakwadi dam has more water than the total freshwater at Israel's disposal.

Vitthal Tandale, chief engineer, WRD command area development, said, "Drinking water for Aurangabad city is a priority, followed by irrigating 1.83 lakh hectares and supplying water for industries. We will release water for the rabi crop in the first week of November." Water for the rabi crop, however, is supposed to be released in the second of week October.