Save water bodies to prevent drought
The editorial, "Make India drought-proof" (July 1-15, 2014), is timely as the country faces deficient rainfall due to unpredictable weather. Many parts of the country are facing drought. The editorial asks a pertinent question: why do we remain unprepared year after year to deal with a droughtlike situation? This is not the first time monsoon has been irregular. This is not the first time our farmers are looking at crop failure. India had witnessed severe drought in 2002, 2004 and 2009. But we have not learnt from the past. A few years of good rainfall make us complacent. This complacency stops us from preparing contingency plans for the future.
When water conservation was taken up as an agenda by the National Democratic Alliance government after it came to power in 1998, watershed management programme was revamped. The priority of the government was to renovate and restore water bodies and recharge groundwater. But bureaucratic loopholes and half-hearted implementation of the project led to its failure. In few states where watershed activities were carried out, the quality, design and technical aspects were not considered. Agricultural engineers with expertise on soil and water conservation can be of great help in this regard. I don't believe we do not have enough manpower; rather, the skills of trained professionals have largely remained under-utilised.