Let These Facts Convince You That India’s Most Pressing Problem Is Its Water Crisis

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Regardless of water being an existential necessity for us, it is also one of the most ill-treated commodities in India. Water is essential to the lives of all human being as well for nature but has not been the indispensable point of focus in our initial plan while the current civilization is rapidly progressed towards urban society and globalization and now it is the need of the hour as it is already a problem.

The most prominent fact of today’s world is the water crisis, where the majority of cities throughout the world are lagging behind to provide the basic need of water. Every drop of water is necessary for each and every one of us and we need to look into the matter very seriously.

The water crisis is increasing day by day. The most significant factor to be considered for these kinds of problems may be deforestation. Apart from this combination of poor management of resources and lack of government attention, man-made waste is also involved.

According to reports, 4% of Indians don’t have proper usable water resources. Additionally, 18% of the world’s population resides in India.

The Puzhal reservoir in Chennai, India, in April 2018 and April 2019. (Data: Maxar Technologies, via Associated Press. Sourced here via The New York Times)

India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat. According to reports, “Currently, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water. The crisis is only going to get worse. 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 ~6% loss in the country’s GDP. As per the report of National Commission for Integrated Water Resource Development of MoWR, the water requirement by 2050 in high use scenario is likely to be a milder 1,180 BCM, whereas the present-day availability is 695 BCM. The total availability of water possible in-country is still lower than this projected demand, at 1,137 BCM. Thus, 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.”

NITI Aayog has recently in June 2018 released a Composite Water Management Index, where it clearly stated that the national capital and other cities in India will run out of groundwater by 2020. The following image will clear us more about the seriousness of the water crisis in India especially in Chennai and Tamil Nadu.

The New York Times has noted a “stark shrinking of one of the main rain-fed reservoirs (Lake Puzhal) that serves Chennai, one of the biggest cities in India.” On the other hand, Lake Puzhal supplies water to about 4.6 million people in Chennai and nearby. Most of us may want to ignore by looking at the perspective of overall development through the lens of big buildings, apartments and other luxurious amenities but the fact is this kind of luxurious life is not possible without water. The most important thing that needs to be considered is that due to this one water body depleting, almost 5 million people in Chennai are running out of water!

Data: Composite Water Management Index by NITI Aayog.

Further, if we look into the nation-wide water crisis, the situation is even more hazardous. The Composite Water Management Index also indicates the seriousness of the water crisis in India, every state is running out of groundwater day by day. The image below can also show us how crucial this issue is and the necessity of immediate action.

According to the NITI Aayog, every state is struggling with water resource management. The numbers are staggering, such as -76 (Gujarat) to -26 (Meghalaya), -49 for Non-Himalayan states and -31 for Northeastern and Himalayan states. Gujarat is the highest performer, closely followed by other high performers such as Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

Various states like Assam, Nagaland, Uttarakhand, and Meghalaya have the lowest Index scores. The reason behind such scores is neglect in terms of water management and policy action, and limited availability of monetary resources for investment at the same time. Other states like Tripura and Himachal Pradesh have high scores and are performing well on providing irrigation and watershed development for both rural and urban areas; whereas Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana have suffered from severe droughts in recent years.

Apart from these, Odisha has exhibited the largest drop. In a single year, the state has dropped to fourth place. It may be due to the fact that the government has not taken any proper action towards rural water supply as well as poor maintenance of existing canals and water bodies.

Each and every state is facing water issues, but Tamil Nadu (81%), is utterly facing acute water shortage within a 10-year average. Due to the water shortage, political instability is also increasing along with cold wars between states in India being underway. Each and every citizen as well the states have their ultimate right to use the natural resources, regardless of what region they belong to.

It should also be noted that no mainstream policy changes and recommendation were merely visible in the social arena. How can we live without water? If necessary action is not be taken today by both government and common citizens of India, the situation is only going to worsen. Furthermore, there is also a need to include all social institutions and other local enterprises for the proper and sustainable way of the use of water.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.
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