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Water Resources Notes | Class 10 Geography

Some Facts About Water

  • Water has a lot of uses and is essential for life. It can therefore be observed that most human civilizations flourished near rivers which are fresh water sources.

  • Water is a renewable resource and is recharged through hydrological cycles. It covers around 3/4th of the Earth’s surface

  • Majority of it (Around 96.5%) is however found in oceans and seas which is saline and thus cannot be put to use.

  • Only 2.5% of water on earth accounts as freshwater. Around 70% of this freshwater occurs in ice sheets and glaciers and 30% is found as ground water.

Causes of Water Scarcity in India

India receives only 4% of total rainfall and ranks 133 in terms of water availability. India is a water scarce country and thus there is a need to conserve water.

  • Overexploitation: People with access to water do not use it judiciously and often overuse pumps causing overflow of water tanks and leading to wastage. Farmers get subsidies for water and electricity use and thus there is excessive exploitation of ground water which is leading to lowering of water tables and reducing the fertility of soil.

  • Unequal access and mismanagement : Not everyone has equal access. Those living in urban ghettos do not have proper water pipelines and there are not a lot of developed resources in rural areas. People have to carry water for long distances.

  • Large and growing population : There is growing demand for water to meet the food requirements of the growing population in India. This is stressing the already low water tables.

  • Intensive industrialization and urbanisation : Industries require water for cooling down of many processes and machines and also require freshwater as a raw material. Development thus has increased the demand for water. With growing urbanisation, there is also greater demand for water to meet needs of sanitation and hygiene.

  • Discharge of chemicals and waste products: Excessive use of fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides in agriculture and discharge of chemicals from industries leads to pollution of rivers making them toxic. Many rivers in India have turned toxic and urgently need to be cleaned.

Water Conservation and Management

Water conservation and management requires construction of structures that could store water and utilise it effectively later and for multiple purposes.

Water Conservation in Ancient Times : Water conservation has been practised in India from ancient times. The use of Baolis or step wells, johars has been prevalent as means for storage of water.

Irrigation systems and canals were made by earlier kings and rulers and also artificial lakes were dug to conserve water.

Water Conservation Techniques Presently : In present time, conservation of water is done by creation of multi-purpose projects

or dams. These structures not only store water for irrigation but serve many purposes.

What is a Dam or a Multi-Purpose Project?

A Dam is a barrier across flowing water that obstructs, directs or retards the flow, often creating a reservoir, lake or impoundment. It is often considered a multi-purpose project as it provides for more than one use.

Advantages of Multi-Purpose Project

  • Irrigation

  • Electricity Generation

  • Water Supply for Domestic and Industrial Use

  • Recreation Activities

  • Fish Breeding or Pisciculture

  • Flood control

  • Inland Navigation

Disadvantages of Multi-Purpose Project

  • Obstruction in Natural Flow : It affects the natural flow of the river causing poor sediment flow and excessive sedimentation at the bottom of the reservoir. This reduces the fertility of soil and causes land degradation.

  • Habitat Destruction : It destroys the habitats for the rivers’ aquatic life and disturbs their natural movement and migration.

  • Loss of Vegetation : It submerges the existing vegetation and soil when they are created on the floodplains.

  • Displacement of Communities : It displaces the local people of the place where it is created. The projects do not benefit those displaced and the benefits of such projects are unequally distributed.

  • Unsuccessful Flood Control : These are unsuccessful in controlling floods at the time of excessive rainfall. They may have also led to excessive flooding due to opening of water gates at times of high rainfall.

  • Induced Earthquakes : These projects can induce earthquakes, cause water- borne diseases and pests and pollution resulting from excessive use of water.

Movements against Multi-purpose river projects

Construction of these projects across major rivers in India saw movements like the ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’ and the ‘Tehri Dam Andolan’ etc.

These movements protested against the large-scale displacement of local communities.

Some Important Dams in India

  1. Salal Dam on Chenab River in Jammu and Kashmir

  2. Bhakra Nangal Dam on Sutlej River in Himachal Pradesh

  3. Tehri Dam on Tehri River in Uttarakhand

  4. Narora Dam on Ganga River in Uttar Pradesh

  5. Rihand Dam on Son River in Uttar Pradesh

  6. Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada River in Gujarat

  7. Kota Barrage on Chambal River in Rajasthan

  8. Damodar Valley Project on Damodar River in West Bengal/Jharkhand

  9. Hirakud Dam on Mahanadi River in Odisha

  10. Koyna Dam on Koyna/Krishna River in Maharashtra

  11. Nagarjuna Sagar Dam on Krishna River in Telangana

  12. Tungabhadra Dam on Tungabhadra/Krishna River in Karnataka

  13. Mettur Dam on Kaveri River in Tamil Nadu

  14. Periyar Dam on Periyar River in Kerala

There are several active inter-state water disputes in India with regard to sharing the costs and benefits of the multi-purpose project.

The constitution of India provides for water tribunals to resolve these issues. Some of the prominent active water-tribunals in India are:

  • Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II (2004) – Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra

  • Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal (2018) – Odisha & Chattisgarh

  • Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal (2010) – Goa,Karnataka, Maharashtra

  • Ravi & Beas Water Tribunal (1986) – Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan

  • Vansadhara Water Disputes Tribunal (2010) – Andhra Pradesh & Odisha.

In order to further streamline the adjudication of inter-State river water disputes, the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha in March 2017 by amending the existing ISRWD Act, 1956.

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting refers to the practice of storing and using rainwater from the surface on which it falls. It is a viable alternative to multi-multi-purpose dams both economically and environmentally.

People had a lot of knowledge about water management and developed practices that suited the local environment and relief.

What are some of the locally known ways of water harvesting and conservation in India?

  • In Western Himalayas : In hill and mountainous regions, people built diversion channels like the ‘guls’ or ‘kuls’ of the Western Himalayas for agriculture.

  • In Rajasthan, ‘Rooftop rainwater harvesting’ was commonly practised to store drinking water. Almost all the houses traditionally had underground tanks or tanks for storing drinking water collected from rain. Rainwater, or palar pani, as commonly referred to in these parts, is considered the purest form of natural water.

  • In Flood plains of Bengal, people developed inundation channels to irrigate their fields.

  • In arid and semi-arid regions, agricultural fields were converted into rain fed storage structures that allowed the water to stand and moisten the soil such as Khadins and Johads

How Tankas works:

Tankas were connected to the sloping roofs of the houses through a pipe. The first spell of rain was usually not collected as this would clean the roofs and the pipes. The rainwater from the subsequent showers was then collected.

Rain falling on the rooftops would travel down the pipe and was stored in these underground ‘tankas’


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