Towards a dry future

first_imgIndia needs to manage water for 17 per cent population of the world but has only 4 per cent of the world’s freshwater resources. Though annual utilisable water is 690 BCM from surface water sources and 447 BCM from groundwater, water supply is so mismanaged that about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. The burden of unsafe water on an individual is 40 times higher than in China and 12 times higher than even Sri Lanka. With a huge amount of wastewater generated annually, mismanagement of wastewater contaminating both surface and groundwater, lack of liquid waste management, poor sanitation conditions and habits contributed a significant portion of the population suffering from water-borne diseases. Also Read – A special kind of bondAll these have been revealed in the Composite Water Management Index of India released recently by NITI Aayog in association with the newly created Ministry of Jalshakti and the Ministry of Rural Development. In spite of possessing surface water, the country is highly dependent on groundwater resources for day to day survival. India is, therefore, facing the challenge to fulfil its demand through the existing but depleting resources. The increased scarcity of water is affecting the broad spectrum of economic, social and developmental activities of the nation. It not only affects GDP directly in the form of loss of productivity of agriculture, industrial and service sector but also decreases the ability of the nation. The impact of water scarcity is already being severely felt in some regions, and if states and UTs fail to control the situation, it is only going to deteriorate. Also Read – Insider threat managementOver the years, expanding agriculture, growing industrialisation, increasing population and rising standards of living have increased our water demands at the same static supply. Efforts have been made to collect water by building dams and reservoirs and creating groundwater structures such as wells, but mismanagement of resources and lower user-efficiency has resulted in a water-stress situation in the country. Currently, nearly 820 million people in 12 major river basins of India are facing high to extreme water-stress situation. Out of these, 495 million alone belong to the Ganga river basin which generates nearly 40 per cent of the country’s GDP. The scarcity of water resources also has many cascading effects including desertification, risk to biodiversity, industry, energy sector and risk of exceeding the carrying capacity of urban hubs. The overall performance of the states in water management remains well-below of what is required to adequately tackle India’s water challenge. The index has placed 16 states out of 27 stated in low performing category. It is a serious problem because these states account for 48 per cent of the population, 40 per cent of agricultural produce, and 35 per cent of the economic output of India. Large economic contributor states have low-water management scores which can hamper India’s economic progress. Food security of the country is also at risk on account of poor performance of the agriculturally sound states. Achieving food security for India, with its rising population, is going to be a significant challenge, and water scarcity will make the goal tougher to attain. India will host more than 1.5 billion people by 2030, and serving the food needs of its entire population will be a daunting task. Water shortages in the country are going to make this task harder. Wheat and rice, India’s two major staple crops, are already being affected by water-related issues. About 74 per cent of the area under wheat cultivation and 65 per cent of the area under rice cultivation faces significant levels of water scarcity. These trends are expected to only get worse if immediate measures are not taken. Estimates suggest that the water demand-supply gap in agriculture could be as high as 570 BCM by 2030. Groundwater resources, which account for 62 per cent of irrigation water, are declining in 52 per cent of the cases and highlight a serious water concern for the agriculture sector. Urban hubs are likely to witness severe water shortages in the future, which could risk urban growth in India and reduce the quality of life for urban citizens. India’s urban population is expected to reach 600 million by 2030, and fulfilling its water needs will be a great challenge. Estimates suggest that the demand-supply gap for the domestic sector will stand at 50 BCM in 2030, with the demand expected to double by that time. The present situation is also not ideal. Five of the world’s 20 largest cities under water stress are in India, with Delhi being second on the list. Additionally, 8 million children below the age of 14 in urban India are at risk due to poor water supply. Estimates suggest that industrial water requirement will also quadruple between 2005 and 2030, highlighting the significant rise in demand by the sector over time. Additionally, a recent study reports that industries will need to draw three times the water compared to their actual consumption by 2030 due to water efficiency challenges. Water shortages are already impacting the sector in the form of erratic and insufficient water supply, hampering production processes and efficiency. 70 per cent of India’s thermal power plants are also likely to face high water stress by 2030, severely hampering India’s energy production and economic activity. As the water crisis worsens, India is also facing great environmental risks threatening numerous species of flora and fauna. 30 per cent of Indian land is impacted by desertification and land degradation, and this outcome is strongly linked to poor water management. The Ministry of Jal Shakti, therefore, must stop the mismanagement of water to save lives and must find a solution to the problem created due to scarcity of water. (The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img

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