Thirsty Odisha is Sizzling under Hot Summer
By Prof. Dr. P. K. Jena Potentially water rich and green Odisha during the last couple of decades is experiencing unbearable hot summer with severe water scarcity for drinking as well as for agricultural, domestic and industrial purposes.
Along with the hot summer, the water crisis particularly for drinking purpose in all parts of the state, has been very acute.
In urban areas though better infrastructural facilities are there to supply drinking water, the acute shortage of water is felt due to drying of most of the rivers and water bodies and at the same time the ground water table has gone down resulting in drying of the tube wells.
This measurable plight is due to unscientific irrigation practices, rampant deforestation, unplanned development of urban areas, industries, roads and railways, unscientific mining etc.
Along with these, the pollution of most of the rivers due to release of urban and industrial wastes, the mismanagement in storing of water resource and unscientific water distribution have been responsible for such acute water crisis.
In order to save Odisha from such miserable plight, the authorities should take immediate steps for implementing various projects in two important areas like (i) Enhancing the surface water in ponds and tanks and other suitable low lying areas for rain water harvesting with facilities for recharging the ground water and (ii) Undertaking afforestation in the barren and mined out areas as well as massive commercial plantation of species like neem, karanj etc., both in rural and urban areas including road and river sides.
Besides harvesting rain water on small and medium scales at suitable sites, better irrigation methods like surface, sprinkle and drip irrigation should be practiced so that the water can be utilized without much loss.
The water which we use particularly for drinking and other domestic purposes when supplied to the consumers a lot of public money is required for its purification and supply.
The forest being a major sink for green house gases, development of fertile soil, protector of ground water reserve and arrester of most of the rain water for going back to the ocean through rivers, efforts are being made all over the world to undertake afforestation programmes in the barren and wasteland including the mined out areas.
In order to bring improved socio economic development of the people in the state by utilizing its rich mineral, soil, water, forest and marine resources, the Government has to give high priority on integrated water resource management along with afforestation of vast barren and waste lands with priority to plantation of economic species both in rural and urban areas.