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99 Yatra
Kutch should tap into Israel’s formula to beat water woes’
21 December 2006

THOUGH Kutch and Israel are almost similar in their geographical sizes with two big deserts and common problems of perennial water shortage, Israel has found the solution to the problems of water scarcity, and can be implemented in Kutch and other water-scarce regions of the country. Professor Avigad Vonshak, of Blaustein Institute for Desert Research in Israel, revealed this in a paper he presented on the second day of the ongoing ‘Regional Conference on Natural Resources Conservation, Use and Sustainability in Drylands’ here. He said that their Negav Desert has less sweet water and more saline water but they had developed a technique that had taken care of their problem. 
According to him, his country got sweet water from two sources— desalination and recyling of the used water. ‘‘About 80 per cent of municipal water was treated and reused for agriculture and it was not free to farmers,’’ he said. He said their farmers again had multiple use of one unit of water. After its use in a fish pond it was diverted to irrigate olive trees. Its last use then was only for recreation purpose.

Dwelling on the ecosystem of Kutch, Sandeep Virmani of Abhiyan, an NGO, said that their study showed that the real resolution to tackle reoccurring droughts here did not lay in scarcity relief but in drought-proofing. In his presentation on the rich flora and fauna biodiversity of the border district, Dr Justus Joshia of Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology (GUIDE) said the Great Indian Bustard, the Desert Monitor Lizard and Grey Wolk were the most endangered species of 769 species of fauna found here.

He said the border district also possessed only biggest breeding and nesting site of Greater Flamingo in India. ‘‘This rich and diverse biodiversity in this dryland need to be protected,’’ he said. Dr Shailesh Vyas of Kutch Sanivankheti Manch (KSM) said that the border district was now turning more to organic farming. Stating that dryland here was in fact forerunner to organic farming, he said in his paper that non-use of much chemical fertiliser was possible here only because the dryland had huge unused land. He said another speciality of the Kutch region was that it was more of mixed farming.

Other experts who presented papers on today’s theme of ‘Dryland Biodiversity and its Conservation’ included Dr M M Roy from the Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, Dr Subhash Wani from ICRISAT, Dr Vandna Shiva from Beeja Vidyapeeth, Dr Ariel Novoplanksy from Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Dr Asad Rahmani from Bombay Natural History Society, Dr N A Ghare of AFARM, Pune, Dr Sudarshan Iyengar of Gujarat Vidyapeeth, and Dr Girish Sohani of BAIF. Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar would attend the concluding day of the conference on Wednesday. The meet is also likely to announce ‘Bhuj Declaration’.

Courtesy - Ahmedabad Newsline - Ahmedabad,India kutchhis globally , from Mumbai

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