Q. 103.7( 3 Votes )
Multi-purpose projects and large dams have come under great scrutiny and opposition for a variety of reasons.
• Regulating and damming of rivers affect their natural flow causing poor sediment flow and extreme sedimentation at the bottom of the reservoir, resulting in rockier stream beds and poorer habitats for the rivers’ aquatic life.
• Dams also splinter rivers making it difficult for aquatic fauna to migrate, especially for spawning.
• The reservoirs that are formed on the floodplains also submerge the existing vegetation and soil leading to its decomposition over a period of time.
• These projects have led to the emergence of the movements such as ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan' and ‘Tehri Dam Andolan’. Resistance to these projects has primarily been due to the large-scale displacement of local communities.
• Irrigation has also changed the cropping pattern of many regions with farmers shifting to water intensive and commercial crops. This has great ecological consequences like salinisation of the soil.
• Inter-state water disputes are also becoming common with regard to sharing the costs and benefits of the multi-purpose project.
Water scarcity may be an outcome of a large and growing population and resulting in greater demands for water, and unequal access to it. A large population means more water not only for domestic use but also to produce more food. Hence, to facilitate higher food-grain production, water resources are being over-exploited to expand irrigated areas and dry-season agriculture. After the independence, India has witnessed the major intensive urbanization and industrialization, for creating major employment opportunities. The ever-increasing number of industries has made matters worse by exerting pressure on existing freshwater resources. Industries, apart from being heavy users of water, also require power to run them. Much of this energy comes from hydroelectric power.
The scarcity of water may be due to the bad quality of water. Recently, there has been growing anxiety that even if there is ample water to meet the needs of the people, much of it may be contaminated by domestic and industrial wastes, chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture, thus, making it dangerous for human use.
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