Op-Ed: The Challenge of Water Management

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Water management is a huge challenge. It is a much bigger challenge in states like Odisha where a lot of water is wasted on a daily basis either through unplugged leakages or overflowing taps and overhead tanks, an example of our carelessness.

As far as our rivers are concerned bulk of the water from rivers like Mahanadi flows into the sea as we don’t have enough dams and barrages on the river to impound this water and put it to use. Instead we have been at the receiving end of recurrent floods.

This is an ironical situation and calls for immediate corrective steps. The most important thing to do on this front will be intelligent management of urban water supply through strict monitoring. With slums and unauthorized habitations mushrooming in cities like Bhubaneswar and Cuttack supply pipelines are being breached by people at will to fetch water mostly near their dwellings.

Even though standposts have been set up in most areas slum dwellers appear reluctant to walk even short distances to fetch water. They would rather breach the supply lines and have illegal connections. They need water at their doorsteps but won’t for it.

The only way of regulating this huge wastage of water is through constant monitoring. Illegal water tankers have also been operating in several cities drawing water from unverified sources and supplying them. Their activities need to be controlled.

Since the government is keen to ensure safe pipe water supply even to all villages it has become all the more important to conserve this precious resource. People in cities cannot be allowed to waste water while people in semi urban and rural areas face a shortage.

It is equally important to make full but judicious use of the water of our numerous rivers. There is tremendous pressure on bigger rivers like Mahanadi and Brahmani which cater to a variety of needs including supplying water to industries. Industries have also been the biggest villains as far as pollution of river water is concerned. Take for example the Brahmani river which is a victim of extreme pollution in different stretches with industrial effluents being discharged into it.

Pollution has several ramifications. It not only makes water unfit for human consumption and makes people using it prone to diseases it can also take a heavy toll on aquatic life. Environmentalists have repeatedly warned that heavy pollution of rivers like Mahanadi and Brahmani could impact the mangrove forests in areas where these rivers meet the sea because mangroves need brackish water with a particular salinity level.

Then there is the issue of water of rivers like Mahanadi going waste because of our failure to set up enough dams and barrages to impound it for our use. The issue of state government’s failure to set up another major dam or barrage in the downstream of Hirakud reservoir has been debated several times. Opinions vary but there is no denying the fact we need to manage our rivers better to make the optimum use of their water for our needs which keep growing with each passing day.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)