Posts Tagged ‘water management’

A monsoon hit to the economy!

A monsoon hit to the economy!

With every passing day, hopes of a normal monsoon are receding.

Along with poor rainfall, hopes of better economic performance in 2009, too, may suffer a washout.The situation is one of concern.

Everyone now has fingers crossed about the next crucial 20 days. Surely, instead of see-sawing between hope and despair each time rains play truant, India ought to deal with the problem of its monsoon-dependence scientifically.

Representing around 17 per cent of India’s GDP, agriculture has averaged nearly 4 per cent growth over five years.The sector was expected to buoy India’s overall growth, hit by the global crisis.

Manufacturing is down. Exports are down. If the monsoon does disappoint, farm production will fall at about the worst possible time.

Nearly 70 per cent of Indians depend on farming. Many handling summer-sown crops like rice, soybean, sugarcane and cotton would be impacted, as also dealers in food and cash crops.

Rural demand has been robust. A poor monsoon could change that. Food prices are already high. They could hit the roof. Within the WPI, the food articles inflation stood at 8.65%.  Inflation for sugar and sugar products stood at a whopping 33.29%.  Poor rainfall will ensure that this problem continues.

Irrespective of how the situation plays out, studies on monsoon patterns indicate a generally erratic and weakening trend.Yet India’s output of water-intensive crops is to grow exponentially in future, implying massive groundwater depletion in wheat and rice-growing states.

Managing water resources – harvesting, extraction, storage or recycling – can’t but be top priority. Woefully inadequate irrigation infrastructure needs overhaul.

India can learn a lot from technologically innovative Israel, a model of efficient water management. Consider drip irrigation, which avoids evaporation by keeping the soil moist underground.

Also, power subsidies encourage waste of water. Their calibrated rollback is required, as also strict use of water meters.

Finally, there’s need to boost manufacturing to meet growth targets and ease dependence on agriculture.

By World Bank estimates, our water demand will outstrip supply by 2020. Staving off such a scenario will require more than propitiating the rain gods.

It is Need of hour that India’s dependence on the monsoons has to be cut down and minimized.