Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cloud-seeding results uncertain, govt woke up too late, say experts== BMC will focus on four dams to take care of Mumbai's needs till 2040

Cloud-seeding results uncertain, govt woke up too late, say experts

MUMBAI: Given the forecast of a poor monsoon, the state government is planning to induce rain through cloud-seeding, whose effect, experts say, is 'highly unpredictable' and 'minimal.' On the ground, however, the situation is grim: Rs 70,000 crore have been spent over the last decade on irrigation projects to tap rainwater for cultivation and drinking, but of the total land under cultivation, only 20% is under irrigation; and of the state's total irrigation potential, only 60% is being utilized.

Most irrigation projects have failed due to inefficiency and corruption; dams are not meeting the minimum benchmarks for irrigation; and the evaporation loss is huge as there are no ways to utilize stored water in the absence of canals.

As the state has decided to go in for cloud-seeding in mid-July in the wake of the latest IMD prediction of 88% rainfall, experts are asking why the government wakes up at the last moment and is not stressing on long-term planning to make things better'.

Last year's CAG report and the report of the special investigation team (SIT) on the multi-crore irrigation scam pointed out how sloth and non-transparency have led to the escalation of crisis, with both of agriculturists and consumers unhappy.

Past experiments with cloud-seeding have also not yielded results, the success rate hovering around 20%-25% at the most. Water expert Madhav Chitale said it would be hard to claim cloud-seeding technology had fully evolved and could ensure accurate results. "This science is full of uncertainties and one can't claim the amount of rain that can be achieved. It's like a science that can treat certain diseases like typhoid but can't claim the same in case of diseases like cancer. It's like a lottery," he said.

But if the seeding experiment worked, Chitale said it can help get rain over a 10 sq km area and if the amount of water per hectare is good, the seeding project's cost could be recovered.

Meanwhile, a senior state official working closely with the chief minister's office said the new government was pursuing its campaign to promote artificial reservoirs or ponds in farmlands to enhance water conservation and improve ground- water table. The state has also put limits on the depth of bore-wells to avoid ill-effects on the ground-water table, he said.

BMC will focus on four dams to take care of Mumbai's needs till 2040

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MUMBAI: Cloud-seeding is not on the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) agenda, as officials said experiments had not produced any result earlier, and there was no need to waste public money again.

The BMC, instead, is trying to secure clearance to start work on four dams in adjoining districts that will take care of the city's water needs till 2040. The water needs are calculated according to the gradually growing population and water level of these dams every monsoon.

A senior officer stated that cloud-seeding was not a successful and tested technology. "We are against such experiments. Some vested interests are pursuing it for personal gain. A businessman recently approached a senior civic officer to conduct a cloud-seeding test again at a cost of Rs 40 crore. The BMC rejected his proposal as there is no guarantee it will produce any result this time," said an officer.

The four dam projects will add up the daily water supply in the city by up to 2,886 million litres. The city uses 3,750 million litres daily, but the requirement is 4,200 million litres.

Out of four proposed dams, work on the ones in Pinjal and Gargai in Palghar district will be done by the BMC, for which it will have to displace 17 villages. But the BMC's land acquisition proposal is pending with the Palghat district collector for nearly six months.

Another two dams will come up on the Damanganga-Pinjal river link project. Work on this national project will be done by the National Water Development Authority (NWDA) with BMC assistance. The BMC and NWDA are awaiting few more clearances to start work. Civic officials said these projects are crucial to solve the city's water problem during summer.

Presently, seven lakes are left with 2,29,804 million litres, which will fulfill the city's needs till July-end. The BMC expects that it will rain before that to add to the water stock. The civic authorities are prepared to conduct a water audit if the monsoon is delayed and will accordingly decide about water cuts.

Additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Mukherjee said, "We got most of the permission. We are getting the land to start dam construction work in Palghar."

 Lakes may run out of water
{alarm every year,no plans yet }