Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu sets an example by becoming water secure

News this fortnight
5 Jul 2023
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Being water secure. Image for representation purposes only (Image Source: India Water Portal Flickr photos)
Being water secure. Image for representation purposes only (Image Source: India Water Portal Flickr photos)

Namkaal district of Tamil Nadu shows the way to successfully manage water scarcity

Tamil Nadu’s Namakkal district has successfully addressed its water scarcity challenges and become the second-best district in India in terms of groundwater availability according to the Union Jal Shakti Ministry’s annual ranking. 

The district was facing acute water scarcity before 2022 and a number of water conservation activities, lakes, rivers, springs protection and reconstruction works were undertaken by the district administration in five municipalities, 19 town panchayats and 322 village Panchayats across the district, to deal with water scarcity. 

A comprehensive approach involving community participation, rainwater harvesting, sustainable agriculture, efficient water management systems, installation of artificial recharge structures and robust policies was undertaken.  

Rooftop collection systems, percolation tanks and check dams were constructed to capture rainwater and replenish the groundwater table. Around 685 individual farm ponds, 530 community farm ponds, 113 recharge shafts and 105 check dams were constructed across the district. Trenches were cut across 84 locations. About 1,400 kms of minor streams, rivers, as well as 49 tanks, were rejuvenated. Encroachments spread along the waterbodies across the district were removed.

Sewerage cleaning was undertaken and a sewerage network of around 24.72 km was created. Seven sewage treatment plants were proposed under the state government’s Nadanthaai Vaazhi Cauvery scheme and a water quality monitoring station was built across the Cauvery River to monitor pollution. Water infrastructure was modernised to minimise wastage.

The district implemented measures to effectively monitor and control water supply networks. The district also focused on community participation and awareness. through conducting regular workshops, seminars and interactive sessions.

These efforts have yielded results and have significantly helped recharge aquifers and solve the water woes of the people in the district (Down To Earth).

Karnataka leads in water quality monitoring of its lakes: Study

A recent study by ActionAid finds that Karnataka is at the forefront in monitoring water quality of its 172 lakes followed by Telangana with 160 lakes. Together, these two states account for 59 percent of the total 562 lakes monitored by various state pollution control boards and pollution control committees across 28 states and eight union territories in the country.

Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Tripura, Rajasthan, and West Bengal collectively monitor 161 lakes while Goa, Tripura, Kerala, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Puducherry, Meghalaya, Odisha, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Chattisgarh monitor only 69 lakes.

Telangana, Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana provide the most up-to-date data on the water quality through their state pollution control board websites while Gujarat and Delhi have not updated their water quality monitoring data since 2010.

Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Sikkim report water quality data with a reporting period varying between 60-90 days indicating a delayed response in lake water quality preservation.

Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam publish reports on water quality for rivers and drains, but do not publish data for lakes while Ladakh, Lakshadweep, and Manipur lack official pollution control board or pollution control committee websites (Indian Express).

Himachal Pradesh women save forests, use forest produce to generate incomes 

Women in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh have found a unique way of generating incomes while also saving forests by making sustainable use of forest products such as pine needles. Women go to nearby forests to gather dead pine needles that the trees have shed, carry them in bundles back home and boil them in water with glycerin to give them a sheen. After drying them, they use them to make beautiful handicrafts.

Women have learnt this as a part of a short training course supported by the forest department, which aims to provide local women with livelihoods and to reduce the risk of forest fires that happen in the region due to thick pine forests. 

Pine needles can become highly flammable when they dry during the summer season, and can trigger forest fires in the area. Cleaning the forest by removal of the pine needles not only prevents forest fires and helps the survival of the forests, but also helps women to earn their livelihoods.

Turning needles into handicrafts has greatly helped women secure sustained incomes through the year while also connecting them to the forests. (VOA News).

Villagers from Thaska village, Harynana protest cutting of Salvadora trees from their forests

Thaska, a village in the Gohana sub-division of the Sonipat district, Haryana has over 1,200 houses and 100 acres of forest land and is known for its beautiful Salvadora trees, famous for their antibacterial and hypolipidemic properties. However, all these trees may soon perish. 

The forest and trees may soon be replaced by constructions planned by the state government to build a state co-operative service and marketing institution known as the Haryana State Co-operative Supply and Marketing Federation Limited (HAFED), and the police line department. The village panchayat had passed a proposal on March 8, 2023, to allot 15 acres of forest land to the state government.

Villagers have been questioning the village sarpanch (head of the village) and his supporters over the resolution to allocate a portion of the forest land for the construction of government buildings. Villagers argue that the ancient Salvadora trees are deeply ingrained in the history of the village and represent a significant cultural and ecological heritage.

The village residents have now formed a 21-member committee called the Rashtriya Paryavaran Ayum Van Suraksha Parmarth Trust (National Environment and Forest Protection Trust), which focuses on preventing the trees from being felled. The committee has handed over a written complaint to Rajya Sabha MP Ram Chander Jangra and the District Development Panchayat Officer, seeking their intervention from felling the trees on forest land (Mongabay, India).

Villagers in Alwar Rajasthan come together to green the Aravallis

The Aravallis spanning Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan had been exposed to stone mining in the early 2000s, which had denuded the mountain ranges leaving deep crater-like lakes filled with rainwater. Mining started in Kahrani village in Alwar district of Rajasthan in 2006 which lies near the Bhiwadi industrial area, on the Rajasthan-Haryana border. Continuous blasting led to gradual erosion of the hills and enveloped the whole village in dust. 

A multipronged strategy was adopted to choke the supply unit and stop the crushers from working and the forest department planned rehabilitation in Kahrani through reforestation and by removal of encroachments spread over 14 hectares. 

Plantations were started in 2019-2020 with the help of local residents on an area spanning 75.7526 hectares. The area has now been transformed following eight months of hard work with the help of the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary, a special force that guards the international borders. Ten thousand saplings of native tree species suitable for arid areas, such as babool, ronj churail, sheesham and ber have been planted. 

The area was also covered with the locally available moonj grass to provide livelihood options to the local residents, which was used for thatching roofs as well as making brooms and handicraft and furniture items. The site continues to be monitored by the a forest protection committee set up by the department in 2015 and the lush greenery and animal sightings seem to show that the efforts are bearing fruit (Down to Earth).

This is a roundup of important news updates from June 16 - June 30, 2023. View our latest policy roundups here.

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