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India Water Week – 13 Held at



* Panel Presentation by Dr. T. Prasad Executive Chairman

Integrated Hydro Development Forum 173-B Shrikrishnapuri, Patna – 800 001

A. What is at stake in Water Management Â

1.Eliminating or minimizing direct and indirect damages and deprivations caused by water resource related problems such as floods and droughts 2. Maximizing production from water and related resources such as land or where water is a primary or critical input such as hydro power, thermal power, nuclear power or industrial goods. 3. Maintaining ecological balance and environmental protection as water is both an element of ecology and an agency for environmental action.

B. What is the existing situation in Water Management  1.Take the case of North Bihar, an area of 53.5 thousand sq km. bounded by Indo-Nepal border to the north, river Ganga to the south, Uttar Pradesh to the west and West Bengal to the east. 2.It is traversed by seven main rivers, Mahananda, Kosi, Bagmati, Kamla, Burhi Gandak, Gandak and Ghaghra, from east to west. All these rivers originate mostly in Nepal, drain all of Nepal and North Bihar before confluence with river Ganga at different points in Bihar. 3. Most of North Bihar is plains formed by alluvial deposits, more than 1000m deep in various layers with a number of aquifers of different thicknesses and at various depths, both in confined and unconfined conditions, recharged vertically as well as horizontally.


The region receives rainfall dominantly from southwest monsoons taking place in 4 monsoon months, mid June to mid October, concentrated in two months of July and August. Due to a combination of hydrological, hydro-meteorological and topographic conditions, the region is subject to annually recurrent floods. Also, due to the characteristics and vagaries of the monsoons, the region is faced with frequent agricultural droughts. On account of the very mild gradient topography of the North Bihar plains, the region is afflicted with poor drainage. The problems of floods, drought and drainage are not area specific but occur concurrently in an interacting manner throughout the region.

C. What is the prospect in Water Management?

 1.Realization of High Agro-potential of North Bihar : On account of most fertile tracts of land, congenial agro-climate for year round agriculture, ample water – both surface as well as ground waters - to meet water requirements of all crops, and sufficient manpower endowed with a culture for agriculture, North Bihar is blessed with very high agropotential. This can, however, be realized only through optimum water resource management. In a recent study, it has been estimated that with such water management, returns from agriculture in North Bihar can be increased about 15 times the present level.

2.Hydro Energy :Although all major sites for dams are located in the upper reaches of North Bihar rivers in Nepal, realization of the hydro energy potential will substantially benefit North Bihar and the rest of the country. While the theoretical hydro energy potential is of the order of 84,000 MW, realizable potential is more than 50,000 MW.



Inland Navigation : Measures for Water Management will also facilitate and promote inland navigation which will provide a very cost effective means for transport of bulk agricultural and other goods. This will greatly enhance the economy of this land locked region. Apart from these three major benefits which will revolutionize the economy of this poor but potentially rich region, other benefits from water management will accrue to all other activities where water is a dominant or critical input such as industry and energy production from other conventional sources such as thermal and nuclear. It will be a rather intractable exercise to translate this prospect into monetary value for additional wealth generated due to such efficient water management in this region. This is on account of benefits generated from spinoff economic activities resulting from such development. As a preliminary and rough estimate, which may well be an underestimate,  this prospect will mean an annual wealth generation of 2500 billion rupees at present value." 




Technological and Related Challenges in Realizing the Prospects in Water Management. The concepts and techniques of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) have to be developed and employed. Modern techniques of water resources planning based on systems approach have to be adopted. It is not only adequate to examine and ascertain the technical feasibility, financial viability and social acceptability of a given water resources project. The challenge is how to evolve such a project. Rational and scientific basis for co-operative development, management and utilization of international water resources have to be evolved.


Newer techniques for analysis, design, operation and maintenance of water resources projects dealing with floods, drought, drainage, irrigation and water supply have to be developed. For example, irrigation based on conjunctive use of surface and ground waters is still far from being professionally adopted and practiced. Similarly, water supply to riverine villages and towns using the cost-effective techniques of River Bank Filtration (RBF) is still not in practice in India.


Environmental, ecological, anthropological, social, legal and political issues involved in rational water management and development are still not scientifically and objectively addressed.


Capacity Building at all Levels Provides the way to Meet these Challenges.

 Capacity building can be achieved through Education, Research and Training (ERT) in water resources. In view of the prospects and challenges in water management indicated above, India is highly deficient and inadequate in ERT. (a)

Education : The depth as well as the spread provided in water management related education at all levels - diploma, graduate and postgraduate is conspicuously deficient. For example, graduate education related to water management is provided in civil engineering. As civil engineering includes several areas such as structural engineering, public health engineering, transportation engineering as well as water resources engineering, subjects in water resources have to be necessarily restricted in depth and number, resulting in only a half-baked water resources engineer which does not measure up to the contemporary challenges in water management. Hence, it is high time to recognize the necessity of having a degree in Water Resources. The pre-graduate or diploma and post-graduate i.e., Master's level education in water management have to be accordingly formulated.


Water management related education is no longer a single discipline affair. Apart from engineering which is no doubt a primary, major and dominant component, other disciplines dealing with economic, environmental, ecological, legal, political, social and anthropological aspects are necessarily and critically involved. Hence to measure up to the challenges in water management facing India, this spread of knowledge has to be provided to produce an adequate water professional. No engineering institution in the country is conceived, designed and equipped for this purpose. This institutional deficiency can be adequately addressed by setting up Water Resources Universities in India.


Lessons to be Learnt

Two examples are given from which right lessons can be learnt. 1.

When Upper Ganga Canal was conceived and constructed in around 1845, the need for education in the related area was also realized by the visionary British engineers. Setting up Thomason College of Civil Engineering at Roorkee in 1854 owes its existence to this realization. The success and sustainability of Upper Ganga Canal System illustrates the role of capacity building in water management.


Water Resources Development in China has been critical for Chinese phenomenal economic development. With the establishment of People's Republic of China in 1949, four universities of water resources have been established or existing institutions were upgraded to water resources universities. The prime example is establishment of Hohai University in 1952 situated in Nanjing.


Panel Discussion 2