ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ageing Large Dams and Future Water Crisis

Ageing large dams are the blind spots of India’s water policies. More than 4,000 large dams reach the minimum age of 50 by 2050, preparing the ground for a future water crisis. The consequences and probable remedies of such a crisis are analysed.

India’s current and future water crisis is well-documented in India’s policies and water management discourse. Large parts of India are already water-stressed. Meanwhile, rapid growth in demand for water due to population growth, increasing urbanisation, changing lifestyle and consumption patterns, inefficient use of water and climate change (together termed as “visible knowns” in this article) pose serious challenges to water security (MoWR 1987, 2002, 2012; Garg and Hassan 2007; Gupta and Deshpande 2004). Apart from these “visible knowns,” Garg and Hassan (2007) express alarm over water scarcity from the point of view of double counting of regenerated groundwater and deteriorating water quality, thereby calling for an urgent review of water policies.

The large dams are projected as water security to tackle the water crisis emanating from “visible knowns,” and their advantages get highlighted in plans and policies (for example, CWC 2009; MoWR 1987, 2002, 2012). But, a very crucial and grave water crisis is emanating from over 5,000 large dams in India, due to their ageing and structural deterioration of service life, which has been found to be either missing, omitted, or ignored in various policies of union and state governments, and India’s water management discourse. If this impending water crisis continues to be ignored in India’s water planning, then the crisis will get compounded beyond what is currently estimated or anticipated in the future.

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Updated On : 5th Jul, 2019

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