Vedic River Sarasvati of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Water Resources Management
Vedic Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Sansthan, Jodhpur, Rajasthan has been engaged in the historical search for Vedic River Sarasvati in coordination with a number of scientists and scholars including the remarkable cooperation received from Regional Remote Sensing Services Centre (Dr. JR Sharma, Director), Jodhpur of Indian Space Research Organization. The results of researches have been compiled in a 7 volume encyclopaedic work called Sarasvati (Bangalore, Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti, 2004), sponsored by Akhil Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Yojana, Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalp (Director, Dr. S. Kalyanaraman, Former Sr. Exec., Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines).
The principal issues related to Water Resources Management in Rajasthan discussed in this note, with particular reference to Rajasthan, are as follows:
1. Ground Water Resources. Creation of sustainable ground-water resource extraction and application systems using space technologies for identification of water-logging locations and ground-water aquifers which are just below 30 to 60 m. below the surface, now subject to slow recharge from northerly sources (as demonstrated by Dr. SL Rao and Kulkarni of BARC, Mumbai); and using percolation tanks to recharge groundwater resources. (A technical geo-morphology report prepared by Dr. KR Srinivasan, Former Director, Central Ground Water Board for Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalp which establishes the possibility of 10 lakh tube wells in central Rajasthan alone is attached for reference).
2. Water use regulation and integrated forest development. Regulated use of surface water resources from the Himalayan glaciers by expanding the Rajasthan Nahar (Sarasvati Mahanadi Rupa Nahar as it is called at the zero-point, Mohangarh, 55 kms. northwest of Jaisalmer) with percolation tanks to integrate with groundwater resources, together with the joint efforts of Forestry and Arid Zone agriculture experts in breaking the winds, stabilization of the sand-dune areas and forestation of the region with water-conserving cash plantations such as Almonds, Dates, Walnuts and creation of pastures for sustaining the livestock wealth, including the use of the special-purse water-conserving gumla developed by CAZRI. Stabilisation of sand dunes and wind-breaking are critical to avoid dune formation on top of the Nahar system resulting in desilting problems. Photo: Sarasvati Mahanadi Rupa Nahar, Mohangarh; 40 ft. wide, 12 ft. deep (Feb. 2002)
3. Desalination of saline water bodies. Considering the high levels of salt concentrations in many parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, desalination of saline water bodies in the entire Rajasthan area (also, coastline of Gujarat) using the indigenously developed Desalination Plant (Dr. Bhattacharjee, Kalpakkam Atomic Power Station), semi-permeable membrane is a cost-effective alternative, costing only 4.5 paise per litre; for example, the entire Luni River waters can be desalinated and rendered potable and fit for irrigation and drinking along the river basin.
4. Sharada-Sabarmati canal link. According priority to the link developed by National Water Development Agency (NWDA) of Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India to create Sharada-Sabarmati canal link (across an aqueduct crossing Yamuna river) to augment the water resources available in the Rajasthan Nahar, making the Nahar a navigable channel to create a waterway and promote tourism in the erstwhile Sarasvati River Basin, and enabling the extension of the Nahar upto River Sabarmati. The components detailed in the Perspective Plan Map (attached) are: E. Sarada-Yamuna; F. Yamuna-Sirsa branch of Western Yamuna Canal (Rajasthan); G. Ganga-Sirhind Canal; H. Tajewala-Bhakra; I. Harike Tailend of Rajasthan Canal; J. Extension of Rajasthan Canal to Sabarmati. Work has already started for 18,000 MW of hydro-electric power generation along the Mahakali-Karnali-Sharada river system in Nepal; the prioritization of the link under the Perspective Plan of NWDA will help rejuvenate the entire North-west India Drainage System. This will provide an impetus to the creation of a National Water Grid under the Perspective Plan to reach glacial waters to all parts of the country and to make all monsoon-based rivers into perennial river systems allowing for three crops per year along the delta areas.
5. Cooperation between Gujarat and Rajasthan. With mutual cooperation among the river basin states, it should be possible to regulate the use of scarce water resources for mutual benefit. An example is the possible sharing of Narmada Canal and Rajasthan Nahar waters between the States of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The areas of Kutch and Saurashtra in Gujarat are short of even drinking water and the extension of the Rajasthan Nahar into Kutch will help Gujarat with the operational imperative: Ghare Ghare Maa Sarasvati; Ane, Khetare Khetare Maa Narmada. For this sharing to be sustainable, the link mentioned above of Sharada-Yamuna aqueduct gains urgency. It is suggested that Governments of Rajasthan and Gujarat bring the urgency to the notice of the Central Government highlighting the immense potential benefits which will accrue to the States of Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat with the immediate implementation of this Sharada-Yamuna link under the Perspective Plan which is being implemented in phases.
6. Use of Space technology for water resource management. Continued and expanded use of the technology facilities provided by RRSSC, Jodhpur (ISRO) to identify water-logging regions, to identify the ancient courses of Sarasvati River System, to indicate the groundwater resources which can be tapped in a sustainable manner and to monitor the land-use with water-efficient agro-plantation-pasture- cultivation and forest systems. The techniques developed by RRSSC have been proved on the ground by the Sarasvati Project launched by Central Ground Water Authority (when Dr. DK Chaddha was the Chairman). The location of groundwater resources is scientifically proven in relation to: 1. palaeo or ancient-channels of River Sarasvati system; 2. proximity to fault-lines; and 3. proximity to ancient archaeological sites (there are over 2,000 such sites all along the River Sarasvati). Plantations of walnuts, dates and other high-value cash crops can be created, together with halophytes such as salicornia brachiata as an edible oil resource all along the Sarasvati River Basin;
7. Expansion of Culture and Heritage tourism in Rajasthan. Creation of heritage tourism promotion zones along the River Sarasvati which is spotted with temples and ashramas of ancient rishis and munis, which are tirthasthanas mentioned in Mahabharata and where even today annual melas are held by pilgrims. Promotion of such pilgrimage and heritage sites with bathing ghats and places for offering tarpan to pitrus (ancestors), will also help promote tourism in Rajasthan and in the Sarasvati River Basin and help preserve the ancient cultural heritage of Bharat. The sites include in Bikaner, S’riganganagar and Hanumangarh districts of Rajasthan: SriKolayat ji (Kapila,), Jageri (Yajnavalkya, S’aunaka), Daad Madesar (Kardama), Diyatra (Dattatreya), Chundi (Cyavana), Pehoa (Vasishtha), Des’nok (Sikarnimaata), Hanumangarh (Gogajimela, Bhadrakali; archaeological sites of Kalibanga, Pilibanga, Rangmahal).
8. Surface, sub-surface drainage integration. Integration of subsurface drainage systems with surface runoffs taking into account the present-day conditions of irrigation systems based on tube wells since at many places, the groundwater is topping upto the surface and the carrying capacity of Ghaggar river is limited resulting in recurring floods at places like Anupgarh in Rajasthan.
9. Security implications. The Rajasthan Nahar was designed taking into account the security considerations being close to the international borders. These implications will be deliberated upon separately. Originally, the Rajasthan Nahar was designed as a navigable channel to provide the multiplier effects of a waterway as an economic means of transport, a transport alternative. By reviewing this original design option and by starting the Links 5 to 7 of the Perspective Plan drawn by National Water Development Agency (Govt. of India, Min. of Water Resources), the Nahar can be extended upto River Sabarmati as shown in Map 2, through the States of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
When His Excellency the President of India, Bharat Ratna Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam visited the exhibition organized at Omchandra Devi Lal Herbal Park at Chuhurpur, near Jagadhri, on 19 April 2004, he was impressed by the satellite images, revenue records and other evidence presented to establish River Sarasvati as ground truth and he made an endorsement in the Visitors’ Book, ‘Delighted to see the hard work in realizing te reality of epic information’.
Dr. S. Kalyanaraman, Director, Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalp (Akhil Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Yojana) and others of the Yojana in conversation with H.E. the President of Bharat, Bharat Ratna, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
A tirthasthana has been created with the construction of Sarasvati Sarovar with 11 check dams at Adi Badri, Yamunanagar Dist., Haryana. This is an excellent example of integrated watershed management: waterharvesting, ecology conservation and development of a Vedic herbal garden. Similar structures can be provided at the heritage pilgrimage sites and tirthasthanas of Rajasthan and Gujarat. His Excellency President appreciated the ongoing work for Rebirth of River Sarasvati.
The following maps are attached: Map 1.Vedic River Sarasvati. The course was as shown by Prof. KS Valdiya (2002, Sarasvati, the river that disappeared, Hyderabad, Universities Press). Map 2. Satellite image of ancient channels of River Sarasvati System in Northwest India (RRSSC, Jodhpur). Map 3. Himalayan component of National Water Grid: Reborn Sarasvati River in Gujarat (Link 5, 7); National Water Development Agency, Govt. of India, Min. of Water Resources; Perspective Plan. These links are part of an integrated National Water Grid facilitated by interlinking Canal Systems to Transfer Surplus Flows of Eastern Tributaries of Ganga to the West benefiting U.P., Uttaranchal, Haryana, Rajasthan & Gujarat
• Ghar Ghar Maa Sarasvati
• Kheti Kheti Maa Narmada
Dr. S. Kalyanaraman, Director, Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalp,
Akhila Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Yojana, Former Sr. Exec., Asian Development Bank,