INDIA’S WATER CRISIS
Context: India is facing one of its major and most serious water crises which is expected to worsen in the coming years.
PRESENT CONDITION OF WATER CRISIS IN INDIA
- According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the Niti Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and others) may reach to zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people.
- 12 per cent of India’s population is already living the ‘Day Zero’ scenario, due to excessive groundwater pumping, an inefficient and wasteful water management system and years of deficient rains.
- The CWMI reportalso states that by 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual six per cent loss in the country’s GDP.
- Rapid growth in India’s urban areas has stretched government solutions, which have been compromised by over-privatization.
- Many water sources are contaminated with both bio and chemical pollutants, and over21% of the country’s diseases are water-related. Furthermore, only 33% of the country has access to traditional sanitation
- We are a major grain producing country with a great need for water to support the commodity. And with large agricultural output, excess water consumption for food production depletes the overall water table.
- Many rural communities in India who are situated on the outskirts of urban areas also have little choice but to drill wells to access groundwater sources
- Water scarcity in India is expected to worsen as the overall population is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by year 2050. To that end, global water scarcity is expected to become a leading cause of national political conflict in the future, and the prognosis holds true for India as well.
- India’s water crisis is oftenattributed to lack of government planning, increased corporate privatization, industrial and human waste and government corruption
MEASURES TO BE TAKEN
- There is a need for a paradigm shift, we urgently require a transition from ‘supply-more water’ provision to measures which lead towards improving water use efficiency, reducing leakages, recharging/restoring local water bodies as well as applying for higher tariffs and ownership by various stakeholders.
- We need to start using our traditional practice of rainwater harvesting which could be one solution for water collection. Collected water can be immediately used for agriculture, and with improved filtration practices to reduce water-borne pathogens, also quickly available for human consumption.
- Another aspect is the treatment and reuse of wastewater. About 80 per cent of the water that reaches households, leaves as waste and pollutes our water bodies and environment.
- There is a huge potential in reusing and recycling this treated wastewater at least for non-potable purposes, which is cost effective.
- We need to promote a decentralized approach, with a key focus on water conservation, source sustainability, storage and reuse wherever possible.
- It is important to understand that managing the water situation is not the job of only engineers but all stakeholders including hydro geologists, economists, planners and most importantly, communities themselves.
- There is a need to emphasize on behavioral changes as well.
STEPS TAKEN BY GOVERNMENT
- The Union government recently formed a newJal Shakti (water) ministry, which aims at tackling water issues with a holistic and integrated perspective on the subject.
- The ministry has announced an ambitious plan to provide piped water connections to every household in India by 2024.
MUKHYA MANTRI JAL SWAVLAMBAN ABHIYAN (MJSA)
- It is described as the country’s largest campaign of its kind towards water harvesting and conservation in rural areas was launched by the government of Rajasthan.
- The programme focuses towards participation from the village locals, NGOs, non-resident villagers, religious communities, and corporate houses through their CSR initiatives in cash, kind and labour for water harvesting in Rajasthan’s rural areas.
JALYUKT SHIVAR ABHIYAAN
- It was launched by the Maharashtra government in a bid to make Maharashtra a drought-free state by 2019.
- The project involves deepening and widening of streams, construction of cement and earthen stop dams, work on nullahs and digging of farm ponds.
- The project aims to make 5000 villages free of water scarcity every year.
- It is a programme for restoring all the minor irrigation tanks and lakes in Telangana State.
- Locals/citizens/ communities have a huge part to play in water conservation.
- By keeping in check our own usage and actions, we can contribute to water management in a significant manner.
- We also need a robust awareness campaign to create awareness about the necessity to use water judiciously.
QUESTION: Scientists think wars of the future will be fought over water. To what extent this holds true for India. Substantiate. (15 MARKS)