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Need to protect hydrosphere; Savita

DAINIK NATION BUREAU

Considering the scarcity of freshwater, it is vital to ensure that water is utilised wisely and saved, said the Forest Research Institute director Savita. She was speaking at an awareness seminar on water conservation, management, development and sanitation organised by the Forest Soil and Land Reclamation division of FRI here on Thursday. Its objective was to create awareness on proper harnessing, management and utilisation of water and its resources in Uttarakhand.

It was stated in the seminar that water conservation basically includes all the policies, strategies and activities to sustainably manage the natural resource of fresh water, to protect the hydrosphere and to meet the current and future human demand. As time advances, water is becoming scarcer and having access to clean, safe, drinking water is limited among countries.

Currently only about 0.08 percent of all the world’s fresh water is exploited by mankind in ever increasing demand for sanitation, drinking, manufacturing, leisure and agriculture. The major problem with ground water is that once contaminated, it is difficult to restore its quality. Nearly 76 million people in India do not have access to safe drinking water. Almost 19,000 villages across the country still do not receive regular water supply.

The Asian Development Bank has forecast that by 2030, India will have a water deficit of 50 per cent. The Union Ministry of Water Resources has estimated the country’s current water requirements to be around 1100 billion cubic metres per year, which is estimated to increase to around 1447 billion cubic metres for the year 2050.

Savita said that several initiatives have been undertaken to deal with the water crisis looming ahead of India, both by Government and Non-Government bodies. In 2014, the 20,000 crore Namami Gange programme was announced by the Union Government. It is a holistic programme that focuses on cleaning the Ganga, along with setting up biodiversity centers, toilets along the river banks to reduce pollution in the river. The FRI has also prepared and submitted a Detailed Project Report (DPR) on Forestry Interventions for Ganga.

The institute has suggested maintenance of forested basins and catchments which function as ‘sponge’ and supply a high proportion of freshwater through streams and rivers originating in upstream catchment Riparian forests which perform functions of ‘natural buffers’ and ‘biological filters’. Suggested approaches to river management emphasise the riverine landscape or ‘riverscape’ perspective as running waters are open ecosystems. Forestry interventions on a scientific basis are pertinent for river conservation, especifically river rejuvenation and overall ecological integrity of river ecosystems  to enhance the productivity and diversity of the forests in headwater areas and all along the river and its tributaries.

The availability and quality of water in the river have been increasingly threatened by over use, misuse and pollution, and both are strongly influenced by the extent and condition of forests in the upstream and downstream areas. It was further stated that the FRI is likely to prepare DPRs on forestry interventions for major rivers of India in the future

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