Water scarcity, a shrinking agricultural area, and excessive groundwater extraction are threatening the country's water resources, warned Dr. Sanjay Chahande, Retired Chairman of the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority. He emphasized the importance of creating awareness across all societal groups about the value of every drop of water, as he envisioned a future where conflicts over water resources could lead to a fourth world war.
Dr Chahande made these remarks as the chief guest during the inauguration of a one-day national conference titled "Food, Solar Energy, and Environmental Security through Water Conservation." The event was jointly organized by the Society for Land Economics affiliated with Lambda Alpha International (USA) and MIT World Peace University, OM LI Chapter, Pune (India). Dr. RM Chitnis, Vice-Chancellor of MIT WPU, presided over the conference.
Other distinguished attendees included Anil Kumar Hatkar, President of OMLI Chapter Pune and an Architect and Urban Planner; Dr. Tushar Shah from the International Water Management Institute in Colombo; Prakash Patil, Deputy General Manager of OM LI; Prof. Rajiv Mishra from JJ College; and Prof Dr Anjali Sane, Founder of the School of Economics and Commerce.
Dr Chahande stressed the vital role of water in human existence and the need to manage water resources effectively in the face of challenges such as erratic rainfall, population growth, and increasing industrial demands. He highlighted government policies aimed at achieving sustainable development in this context.
Anilkumar Hatkar underscored the significance of the conference in addressing water-related issues, groundwater depletion, energy consumption, and the use of advanced technology for environmental sustainability.
Potential future conflicts over water
Dr RM Chitnis noted that a significant portion of the earth's surface is covered by water, but only a small percentage is drinkable. He echoed concerns about potential future conflicts over water resources and emphasized the importance of sustainable development. He mentioned the compulsory inclusion of environmental subjects in the curriculum by the UGC (University Grants Commission) as a step in the right direction.
The conference featured experts discussing topics such as water in the industrial sector, groundwater table crises, energy consumption, the interdependence of food and energy, and global perspectives on these issues.
Dr Himanshu Kulkarni highlighted the neglect of sustainable and traditional groundwater management practices by modern farmers in India, leading to a loss of crop diversity.
Senior Scientist Dr Tushar Shah noted India's abundant groundwater resources but highlighted regional disparities in groundwater use and availability.
Dr Ravindra Utgikar discussed the path towards a "bio-economy" and the conversion of various forms of energy into green and clean energy for sustainable growth.
Shekhar Gaikwad emphasized the need for water planning, especially due to increased water consumption by sugar factories and declining groundwater levels.
Pankaj Tagal Pallewar advocated for increased use of solar energy in agriculture to alleviate stress on the traditional sources.
Rajendra Hulani stressed the importance of water recycling in rural areas where water scarcity is a growing concern.
Dr Nitin Bassi highlighted the impact of climate change, turning India into a tropical country and causing variations in weather patterns, necessitating environmental protection efforts.
The conference was introduced by Dr Anjali Sane and moderated by Dr Preeti Joshi.