Creating functional wetlands while providing water for irrigation Godavari river basin, India.
Gujja, Biksham*,, Goud, Vinod*,, Dalai, Sraban,
ABSTRACT- Water withdrawals from the rivers for irrigation is still a major issue in many developing countries. These large irrigation projects are not only increasingly becoming expensive, but leading to social conflicts and ecological degradation. There are three major reasons for continuing business as usual a) the irrigation projects are primarily designed by engineers b) Irrigation is still spends large public money so there are lobbies to push for larger and bigger infrastructure projects c) alternatives not presented at large scale. As part of initiating a open dialogue on water infrastructures of new irrigation projects, WWF-ICRISAT project is working in Godavari basin, the second largest river basin in India. Government is presenting a project to lift water 450 meters and transport 200 km, which is expensive and may not work WWF-ICRISAT dialogue project, after critically evaluating the proposed GLIS scheme, has engaged with local partners in exploring options which are cheaper, socially more acceptable and will not lead to further degradation of the ecosystems- forests, lands and ground water. Exploring options is based on ground realities: a) there are many traditional water harvesting structures built over centuries, b) these structures need massive investments reclamation etc., c) they need to enhance the ecosystems. Using several data sets and appling GIS, the results are: a) More than five percent of the geographic area covered by the traditional water structures know as tanks, b) If these structures are repaired, renovated to store 15% percent of rain water during normal rainfall, can hold enough water to meet the demands of all the sectors and recharge the ground water, c) Such water management will provide better cropping options to farmers rather than promoting mono-crop, rice in the canal irrigation, d) Five percent of the geographic area in this semi arid region will be turned into functional wetlands with multiple purposes including hosting migratory birds, e) renovating these traditional water tanks needs major financial commitments but also needs to build new institutions to carry the work and maintain them in future.
Key words: wetlands, Irrigation, Dialogue, India
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