Water management in UP A litmus test for Indo-Israel ties

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the UP Jal Nigam and Israel's ministry of national infrastructure, energy and water resources, during PM Narendra Modi's historical visit to Israel in early July 2017. Israel will help UP in water utility reform. 


With the signing of MoU, Uttar Pradesh will be the first foremost collaborator among Indian states to jointly work on water utility reforms with Israel, which will cover all aspects, including drinking water supply, in both rural and urban areas, irrigation, rivers cleanliness, competence and conservation.


As per the modalities, the state government will form a joint task force of UP Jal Nigam, Central Water Commission, Central Ground Water Board and National Mission for Clean Ganga and some other departments related with water to identify and categorize the challenges and priorities and look for solutions in a time bound manner. This has to be worked out by the water resources ministry to carry on works within the MoU.


UP has dozens of rivers. Major ones are Betwa River, Chambal River, Ganges, Ghaghara, Gomti River, Hindon River, Kali River, Ken River, Ramganga, Rihand River, Rapti River, Yamuna and much more. But due to encroachments on the wet land, river plains, catchment areas and river beds, all the rivers are become left as drains. Only during rainy season some of them have enough water. So, clearing all these encroachments is also a big challenge and restores the rivers to their natural forms.


As Israel gives great importance to India, Israeli authorities are very keen to take up the problem areas very seriously to find the right solutions. Actually, UP will be a sort of tough test case for this India-Israel cooperation and overall without knowing the syllabi. Moreover, they have to face the hostile opposition parties which are traditionally pro-Islamic nations and anti-Israel. If Indo-Israel working group succeeds in UP, it can open other areas of cooperation too to be replicated elsewhere.


UP has no shortage of water. The problem is the proper management of water and water resources. For this, they must construct dams and check dams on a very large scale. UP has plenty of rain water. If this water is collected in dams and check dams, this collected water can be used during the lean season. This will end the problem of drought and water shortage in this state.


The water collected in dams and check dams can be released in the rivers which will ensure the flow of clean water in rivers, throughout the year. Thus rivers will be cleaner. This will also increase underground water level and increase the ground water level. Water harvesting system must be installed on a very massive scale to recharge and increase the ground water level with clean water.


River linking is another way out to revive the dying rivers. By this method surplus water can be diverted to other areas. These methods will solve most of the problems of floods, droughts, water shortage, pollution, etc. This will ensure clean and safe water supply to people across the state and increase the green cover and reduction of dust, soil and water pollution.


The joint team should also ensure the zero liquid discharge policy as far as sewage effluent is concerned for tackling Ganga and other river's pollution and encourage using recycled water in agriculture. Water conserving resources like the construction of dams, check dams, river linking and rain water harvesting should be carried out in the drought hit and water-starved region of Bundelkhand. The agencies of both countries have to work together to find out state specific solution.


Although, the Israeli experts had worked in other states earlier, including Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, in the field of water use management, efficiency and desalination, the UP will be the first state where the country will have to work on several issues altogether as part of overall water management reforms.


On these issues, there was detail discussion and understanding between state CM Yogi Adityanath and Israel's ambassador to India Daniel Carmon in Lucknow in May before signing of the MoU.