India’s ‘worst water crisis in its history’ is only going to get worse: Niti Aayog Report

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Delhi: India is facing its ‘worst’ water crisis in history and around 600 million people face a severe water shortage, according to the Niti Aayog report. The pressure on urban water resources is expected to increase, as cities and towns are growing. “By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply,” the Niti Aayog report reads.

The report, which draws on data from 24 of India’s 29 states, says if the water crisis problem is only going to get worse” as 21 cities are likely to run out of groundwater by 2020. If the problem will not handle, there will be about 6% loss in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2050, the report says.

Approximately 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to clean water. This would also threaten food security as 80% of water is used in agriculture. Indians are regularly facing water problems in the summer because they lack the infrastructure to deliver piped water to every home. Rural areas are also badly affected by a lack of access to clean water. They cannot depend on groundwater due to erratic rains and the fact that Groundwater is increasingly used for farming when monsoon rains do not deliver a sufficient level of precipitation meaning there is little to drink.

Poor data management system and poor planning to distribute water have prevented the country from making any significant progress. According to Composite Water Management Index report, — Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Telangana are doing a better job than others in managing their water. The report ranks Gujarat on the top in the west (2016-17), followed by Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.  In North Eastern and Himalayan States, Tripura has been adjudged number 1 in 2016-17 followed by Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Assam.  In terms of incremental change in index (over 2015-16 level), Rajasthan holds number one position in general States and Tripura ranks at first position amongst North Eastern and Himalayan States.

Alarmingly, the states ranked lowest- Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh — accounted for 20-30% of India’s agricultural output. “Given the combination of rapidly declining groundwater levels and limited policy action…this is likely to be a significant food security risk for the country,” the report says.

“There is an imminent need to deepen our understanding of our water resources and usage and put in place interventions that make our water use efficient and sustainable”, report says.



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