Hyderabad, March 21: Pollution in rivers, landward movement of marine water and depleting resources of ground
water coupled with climatic change haunt the people in Andhra Pradesh this World Water Day.
Andhra Pradesh, though endowed with natural water resources, is one of the geographical areas in the world
identified by water experts as "problematic". The next four decades will be crucial for the State as experts fear that
there will be severe shortage of drinking water by 2050.
The State has been witnessing a major environmental problem in the form of landward movement of sea water. The
sea is intruding into the State landwards through underground aquifiers and ground water department estimates that
the sea water has already intruded up to 30 km in the coastal belt. This in simple words means people, living in areas
where sea water-fresh water interface is witnessed, will not get potable water in wells. They get only salty water unfit
for consumption. Already several villages in Krishna, Godavari, Guntur and Prakasam districts are witnessing the
"Indiscriminate construction of dams across rivers and streams is telling on the estuaries. In Krishna river sea water
is felt even up to Nagayalanka, 20 km away from the sea coast. Same is the case with the Penna river in Nellore
district. With reduced inflows into the sea, marine water is intruding into the river estuaries upsetting the
hydrological balance in nearby villages," points out senior environmental biologist Dr Duggaraju Srinivas.
Thanks to indiscriminae drilling for water, ground water levels have come down considerably in many places. While
Anantapur district is fast turning into a desert, several grey areas have emerged even in the coastal belt where
normally ground water levels are quite high. The number of wells in the State have gone up by 400 per cent in the
last four decades. Excessive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides and conversion of agricultural fields into
aquaponds have further aggravated the situation. Today the State has nearly 2.5 million wells. The dependable
availability of water in the State is 2746 tmc while the utilisation is 2092 tmc.
Even as the situation is turning from bad to worse, a group of farmers has turned out to be torch bearers in remote
Telangana villages. Under a special FAO programme, thousands of farmers in nearly 1000 villages have mastered
the art of drought agriculture.
According to PS Rao, coordinator of National Land and Water Programme, use of innovative agricultural methods
by these farmers has brought a major social transformation including making women economically stronger.
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