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Renewable Resources

21-AUG-2015 10:12

    A renewable resource is an organic natural resource which can replenish to overcome usage and consumption, either through biological reproduction or other naturally recurring processes. Renewable resources are a part of Earth's natural environment and the largest components of its ecosphere. Example: forests resources, water resources, mineral resources, Air resources etc.

    Forest Resources:

    Scientists estimate that India should ideally have 33 percent of its land under forests. Today we have only about 23 percent. Thus we need not only to protect existing forests but also to increase our forest cover. People who live in or near forests know the value of forest resources first hand because their lives and livelihoods depend directly on these resources.

    The main resources which are received by the human being from the forest are the water, fruits, woods, medicines etc. These resources provide a lot of revenue to the government and tribal peoples.

    Water Resources:

    The water cycle, through evaporation and precipitation, maintains hydrological systems which form rivers and lakes and support in a variety of aquatic ecosystems. Wetlands are intermediate forms between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and contain species of plants and animals that are highly moisture dependent.

    Statistics on Water

    Water covers 70% of the earth’s surface but only 3% of this is fresh water. Of this, 2% is in polar ice caps and only 1% is usable water in rivers, lakes and subsoil aquifers. Only a fraction of this can be actually used. At a global level 70% of water is used for agriculture about 25% for industry and only 5% for domestic use. India uses 90% for agriculture, 7% for industry and 3% for domestic use. The total annual freshwater withdrawals today are estimated at 3800 cubic kilometers, twice as much as just 50 years ago (World Commission on Dams, 2000). Studies indicate that a person needs a minimum of 20 to 40 liters of water per day for drinking and sanitation. More than one billion people worldwide have no access to clean water

    India is expected to face critical levels of water stress by 2025. At the global level 31 countries are already short of water and by 2025 there will be 48 countries facing serious water shortages. The UN has estimated that by the year 2050, 4 billion people will be seriously affected by water shortages. This will lead to multiple conflicts between countries over the sharing of water. Around 20 major cities in India face chronic or interrupted water shortages.

    Sardar Sarovar Project

    The World Bank’s withdrawal from the Sardar Sarovar Project in India in 1993 was a result of the demands of local people threatened with the loss of their livelihoods and homes in the submergence area. This dam in Gujarat on the Narmada has displaced thousands of tribal folk, whose lives and livelihoods were linked to the river, the forests and their agricultural lands. While they and the fishermen at the estuary have lost their homeland, rich farmers downstream will get water for agriculture.

    Kulhs in Himachal Pradesh

    Parts of Himachal Pradesh had evolved a local system of canal irrigation called kulhs over four hundred years ago. The water flowing in the streams was diverted into man-made channels which took this water to numerous villages down the hillside. The management of the water flowing in these kulhs was by common agreement among all the villages. Interestingly, during the planting season, water was first used by the village farthest away from the source of the kulh, then by villages progressively higher up. These kulhs were managed by two or three people who were paid by the villagers. In addition to irrigation, water from these kulhs also percolated into the soil and fed springs at various points. After the kulhs were taken over by the Irrigation Department, most of them became defunct and there is no amicable sharing of water as before.

    Water harvesting is an age-old concept in India. They are called as

    • Khadins, tanks and Nadis in Rajasthan,
    • Bandharas and Tals in Maharashtra,
    • Bundhis in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, ahars and pynes in Bihar,
    • Kulhs in Himachal Pradesh,
    • Ponds in the Kandi belt of Jammu region, and
    • Eris (tanks) in Tamil Nadu,
    • Surangams in Kerala, and
    • Kattas in Karnataka are some of the ancient water harvesting, including water conveyance, structures still in use today. Water harvesting techniques are highly locale specific and the benefits are also localized. Giving people control over their local water resources ensures that mismanagement and over-exploitation of these resources is reduced.

    Mineral Resources:

    Minerals are formed over a period of millions of years in the earth’s crust. Iron, aluminum, zinc, manganese and copper are important raw materials for industrial use. Important non-metal resources include coal, salt, clay, cement and silica. Stone used for building material, such as granite, marble, limestone, constitute another category of minerals. Minerals with special properties that humans value for their aesthetic and ornamental value are gems such as diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. The luster of gold, silver and platinum is used for ornaments. Minerals in the form of oil, gas and coal were formed when ancient plants and animals were converted into underground fossil fuels.

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