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WATER GOVERNANCE

  1. For a personal level change in attitude towards water conservation, the most important aspect is to make people realize that whatever action they do on their land is going to impact their individual water availability as well that of their surroundings. 
  2. The extent of impact on the surroundings will depend upon the kind of intervention by individuals on their land.
  3. When the rice fields / wetlands surrounding farmsteads are reclaimed, or when a hill is demolished or when there is massive sand mining close to riverside farmstead, its impact is felt on the open wells or ponds within many of the farmsteads. The wells will dry up ultimately
  4. Very few people usually respond when the reclamation/ demolition/ mining is going on. Most of them respond only when their wells / ponds start drying up. The non-response in the initial stages could be due to sheer ignorance or due to ‘why should I respond or what is the use in me responding’ attitude.
  5. The most primary form of resource dis-connect starts from this personal level and it manifests to neighborhood and to the panchayath/town/city. This is where the change in attitude of the people in viewing water cycle, how water flows above and below their land and its connection should start.
  6. Water is to be conserved both at personal and community level. For that people should realize the impacts of their actions not only on their land but also on its surrounding lands. For eg., the impacts of widespread concretization of the surroundings of the house which will cut off percolation of rains into soil and recharge of ground water. When some 500 households in a neighborhood cover their land with concrete, it turns into a severe impact which will affect ground water recharge. Saline water intrusion, water shortage, poor quality water etc can come.
  7. In a hilly panchayath when a land owner gives away his land for quarrying, he is ultimately destroying the drainage of water and stream flow from that land and his personal decision is affecting the water availability of people living in the surroundings as well. Meanwhile, the land owner never takes responsibility for the destruction for generations to come, that he has created.
  8. The cumulative impact of such actions by several individuals in a region / watershed / panchayath gets manifested into water scarcity / ground water lowering/ saline water/ poor quality water, and drying up of streams
  9. And there is no provision under law to fix responsibility for the water scarcity created by the action of such quarry owners / rice field/wetlandreclamation .

One of the principles of good Governance is Accountability for all decisions, actions, consequences and impacts for the decisions!!!!

Dr A Latha, Water Resource Center ,Ollur, Thrissur & Partner Excelkerala

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