Barind region on the brink of water crisis
According to recent media reports, people in Barind region of Rajshahi district's Tanore are facing acute shortage of drinking water as the ground-water level is fast depleting. Experts say this is a result of excessive ground-water usage, which are mostly being extracted for paddy farming, rice mill operations and other industrial purposes. The paddy-farmers are also going through serious scarcity of water. Thus they have to pay high prices for water required for cultivation from private deep tube-wells.
Data from the Barind Multipurpose Development Authority suggests that around 70 percent of the region's annual groundwater extraction of 13,710 million cubic metres is done by unregulated private deep tube-wells which are enough to fill up around 18 lakh ponds - each two metres deep and covering an area of one Bigha.
However, excessive usage of groundwater for farming and industrial purposes is a common crisis faced by many people across the country. Bangladesh is the world's fourth largest rice-producing country, and ground-water provides 75 per cent of the water needed for rice irrigation. An estimated 3,000 litres of water are required to produce just one kilogram of Boro rice and this estimate doesn't even count the water being used up in the rice mills. This current situation demands to take some urgent steps for the farmers and rural communities who are suffering deeply from the lack of adequate levels of groundwater.
The right to water of every citizen of this country is set out in the Bangladesh Water Act 2013 and Bangladesh Water Rules 2018.Therefore, government should ensure that these laws are enforced and regulated effectively.
In this regard, Water Resources Planning Organisation (WARPO) has taken up plans to map surface and underground water resources across the country. They also work to identify safe withdrawal limits of ground-water and regulate water use.
This water governance project is a step in the right direction, and the government must ensure its effective implementation. At the same time, it must also take steps against industries that are abusing shared water resources and encourage farmers to move towards less water-intensive crops in regions where ground-water requires preserving.
Meanwhile, they can also look for other alternatives to preserve natural sources of water such as rainwater harvesting that can fulfil their demand for drinking water. The local NGOs can come forward to assist them with easy scientific method of rainwater harvesting.