New Delhi: Renowned water conservationist Rajendra Singh has said that India could face a climate refugee crisis in the next seven years if the country continues to face water scarcity.
“Climate refugee” refers to the mass migration and increase in cross-border mass movements of people partly due to such meteorological disasters.
Speaking at the India Today Conclave 2021, water conservationist Singh, also known as the “Waterman of India”, said that the country cannot become ‘panidaar’ (water self-sufficient) unless through discharge and recharge. Keep a balance.
“And striking a balance between water discharge and recharge is possible only through community-driven decentralized management,” he said.
Singh said that people are already migrating from their villages to cities due to water scarcity.
He warned, “Europe is seeing climate refugees from many African countries. Fortunately, Indians are not called climate refugees right now, but in the next seven years, if India continues to face water scarcity, Indians will have to do the same. Some kind of situation will have to be faced.”
He questioned what would be the future of India if the water banks were getting empty due to excessive pumping of groundwater.
“There is already migration due to water scarcity and migration from villages to cities everywhere and we should really call it displacement of people.
Now the situation is such that there is such a shortage of water that people are not able to leave the village and return.
He said, “There is migration due to water scarcity in India. Cities have water. In agriculture, till the efficient use of water is started in the country under skill development and water literacy movement, India will not be able to get water. Can’t make up for the shortfall.”
Bharat Lal, Additional Secretary (Water), Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti said that the government has launched Jal Jeevan Mission and is working towards recharge, supply and reuse and maintenance of water in the country.
“Under Jal Jeevan Mission, communities are involved and we aim to make villages and schools enlightened with timely water, sanitation and hygiene.
Women led water committees are being formed and civil society is being involved to spread awareness.
Singh said the water crisis is a “women crisis” and the government has formed 3.8 lakh women committees, but it is only on paper.
“What is their power, what is in their hands. When a contractor is employed, he takes into account his profit. So, when there is a contractor-driven action then what will be the benefit to the community,” he said.
Singh said that due to climate change, farmers are not able to link the cropping pattern with the rainfall pattern.
“How is the rain pattern changing due to climate change which is affecting and destroying the crops.
Farmers are not able to ascertain how much rain they can expect.”
“We can work on that by first starting the water literacy movement and the agricultural universities of the country should also be given the responsibility of reporting the rainfall pattern in 90 agro-ecological climate zones and linking it with the cropping pattern to help the farmers, ” They said. added.