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Kerala Introduces Water Budget to Combat Summer Water Scarcity for First Time

An multitude of rivers, streams, backwaters, and a good quantity of rainfall contribute to Kerala's lush flora, despite the fact that many regions of the state endure extreme water scarcity during the summers. As a result, the state has adopted a Water Budget, the first of its type in the country.

Shivam Dwivedi
Kerala Introduces Water Budget to Combat Summer Water Scarcity for First Time
Kerala Introduces Water Budget to Combat Summer Water Scarcity for First Time

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan unveiled the specifics of the state's first phase of the Water Budget on Monday, including 94 grama panchayats in 15 block panchayats. At the ceremony, Vijayan stated that the state's water availability was decreasing, and that a water budget would be beneficial in properly utilizing the resource and minimizing waste.

Water experts praised the idea, saying it would assist the state in determining the demand and supply of the valuable liquid resource and allocating it accordingly, as the issue was not one of availability, but of management.

"It is not a scarcity issue; it is a management issue," stated Dr Sunny George, Director of the SCMS Water Institute and an internationally renowned limnologist. "In order to manage a resource, it must first be quantified." That is the fundamental premise of resource management," he stated. "Trying to manage a resource without quantifying it is akin to fighting our own shadow." It'd be tricky. We will have a correct picture if we have statistics on demand and supply. We will be able to properly plan. Budgeting would be quite beneficial. "The Water Budget is an excellent initiative," he told.

He stated that, in addition to natural sources such as numerous rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams, as well as the high rainfall the state receives during the monsoon season, which begins in May, Kerala has over 46 lakh open wells. However, with the advent of piped water connections, people have forgotten about the wells excavated at private expense that serve as a supply of water. "As a result, these wells must be included in the Water Budget data as a source of water supply," he explained.

T N Seema, Coordinator of 'Navakeralam Karma Padhathi,' also agreed that the state has a plenty of water but confronts a shortage during the summer. She told PTI that this was discovered during a water budget exercise in the 94 grama panchayats of the 15 block panchayats. "Volunteers, resource persons, and technical committee members considered all water sources in each panchayat, including rainfall, wetlands, canals, and other bodies of water, as well as demand from humans and animals, agriculture, and industries."

"As part of the Water Budget, specific recommendations have been provided to each panchayat," she explained. In his speech following the release of the Public Water Budget and the third phase of the project 'Ini Njan Ozhukatte' (Let me flow now) for rehabilitation of irrigation networks in the Western Ghats, Vijayan stated that despite having 44 rivers, many backwaters, lakes, ponds, streams, and good rains, many parts of the southern state faced water scarcity during the summers. "As a result, water usage must be regulated in accordance with its availability in a given area." The water budget comes into play here. It would raise public awareness about avoidable water waste, which would allow us to achieve water conservation.

"It is a first-of-its-kind project in the country and will serve as a model for other states," the CM stated. His statements are significant because Kerala has been experiencing severe temperatures and water scarcity in many sections of the state in recent weeks. Vijayan also stated that, despite the state receiving adequate rainfall each year, water availability was decreasing. Despite this, he claims that water availability in Kerala is three times the national average. "Our actions and usage" were one of the many reasons for the decrease in water supply, he continued.

Vijayan stated that work was being done to construct more ponds, protect our streams, and rejuvenate other water bodies, and that this was being done carefully by local self-government institutions (LSGIs), which had now been charged with implementing the water budget.

According to the CM, the water budget would be established by a committee comprised of officials from the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management, the State Water Resources Department, and numerous specialists. Concerning the rehabilitation of irrigation networks in the Western Ghats, Vijayan stated that the first and second phases of the project revitalized over 7,290 kilometres of irrigation networks.

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