Fixing the Water Mess in India
Fixing the water mess in India is all about managing demand and not about building new infrastructure at the moment.
Dr. Upmanu Lall is the Director of the Columbia Water Center, and a leading expert on hydroclimatology, climate change adaptation, risk analysis and mitigation. His research has emphasized hydrology, water resource systems analysis, operations research and stochastic processes with applications to flood/drought risk and uncertainty assessment and the design and operation of water systems. He has pioneered the application of techniques from (a) nonlinear dynamical systems, (b) nonparametric methods of function estimation and their application to spatio-temporal dynamical systems, and (c) the study of multi-scale climate variability and change as an integral component of hydrologic systems. As new knowledge was created in these areas, he has focused on its application to water resources management through innovation in adaptive or dynamic risk management methods that can use information on the structure of climate for simulation or forecasting. Recently, he has become concerned with the issue of global and regional water sustainability, and the more general issue of modeling and managing planetary change due to coupled human and natural dynamics. He is developing technical and policy tools for the projection and management of environmental change as part of a quantitative approach to sustainability of earth systems.
We have a three-part strategy to revolutionize the water story in India. The first part is to come up with ways that are politically feasible to start pricing water and electricity. This is done through field experiments with farmers to figure out how they can participate in this. The second is you have to save water for this strategy to work or to put it another way, to increase the productivity associated with the same amount of water. So we are taking technology and coming up with strategies by which that technology can be used by say a million farmers added per year into this particularly strategy. The third part of the strategy is to deliver the farmer higher income and shift the crops to ones that are less water consuming at the same time and that involves bringing in corporations that are sufficiently enlightened to see that developing the agricultural marketplace in India is to their advantage and helping farmers at the same time is beneficial.
If you put it together, price, technology and procurement, those three things get you out of the mess that India is in today and it’s all on demand management and not on building new infrastructure at the moment.
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