Water crisis and India
Representational Image. Courtesy: Gyan Shahane for Unsplash

Water Crisis And India

March 30, 2022

Apart from the problems of India’s growing population, climate change is a major factor in India’s water crisis. Experts estimate that almost 70% of India’s water resources are polluted, and many major rivers are heavily polluted.

India is home to 18% of the world’s population, but only 4% of the world’s water resources. From a global perspective, over 19% of the world’s population without access to clean water lives in India. India supports 17% of the world’s population with just 4% of the world’s freshwater, meaning the country is at serious risk of water shortages. India has 4% of the world’s freshwater, which should satisfy 17% of the world’s population.

India has only 4% of the world’s freshwater despite a population of over 1.3 billion. About 600 million people, or about 45% of India’s population, face high or severe water scarcity. In addition, India’s water shortages are projected to worsen as the total population is expected to rise to 1.6 billion by 2050.

The problem of water scarcity is best viewed from the perspective of India, a crisis affecting about 1 million people a year. India’s water scarcity has been particularly exacerbated in recent years because of climate change, which has delayed the monsoons, causing water bodies to dry up in several regions. Soon, India will face severe water shortages because of overexploitation, which will lead to a significant drop in the water table across India.

Because of the lack of a long-term water management plan, many rivers in India are drying up or becoming polluted. Natural disasters do not cause much of the water crisis in India, but serious water mismanagement, mismanagement and indifference to the scale of India’s water crisis.

Mismanagement and lack of management have led to the spread of the water crisis from the southern regions of the peninsula to the water-rich northern regions of the Himalayas. To deal with this crisis, which is expected to worsen, India has called on states responsible for providing clean water to residents to prioritise wastewater treatment in order to bridge the gap between supply and demand and save lives.

Water pollution is a major problem, a government think tank report says, with nearly 70% of India’s water contaminated, affecting three out of four Indians and accounting for 20% of the country’s disease burden. India is “suffering from the worst water crisis in its history” threatening hundreds of millions of lives and jeopardising economic growth, according to a June report from a government think tank. Severe water problems could cut India’s gross domestic product by 6%, according to a report by state think tank Niti Aayog.

Indeed, overexploitation of groundwater in India is leading to “the worst water crisis in its history,” warns Indian think tank NITI Aayog. The report says that by 2030, almost 40% of India’s population will not have access to clean water, and by 2050, 6% of India’s GDP will be lost because of the water crisis. A UNICEF report states that less than 50% of India’s population has access to safe drinking water.

Less than 10% of groundwater supplies over 85% of the country’s dependent population with drinking water. Groundwater supplies 40% of India’s water needs, including over 60% of irrigated agriculture and 85% of domestic water use. Despite large dam and canal systems in India, groundwater accounts for 63% of the water used by farmers for irrigation; channels account for only 26%.

India’s dependence on agriculture, which makes up a large part of its economy and employs some 800 million people, further paralyzes water management, especially given the unpredictable monsoons. Many Indians are forced to spend money on drinking water, but the poorer sections of society cannot afford it daily, which creates an enormous problem of water scarcity for the rural population of India.

The Indian government is finally investing more resources to solve the problem of water scarcity. It will take the combined efforts of every citizen of India to conserve water and India’s efforts to implement expensive but effective technologies and infrastructure to disperse water throughout the country.

Water 2030 estimates that if we continue to consume water at the current rate, India will use only half of its water by 2030, just 10 years from the tipping point. Global water scarcity is expected to be a major cause of political conflict in countries going forward, and India’s prospects are no exception.

The sheer scale of India’s needs has made India the focal point of the global water and sanitation crisis. Of course, the labour cost of worsening shortages is already clear. About a quarter of the world’s population does not have access to safe drinking water at home, and within a few years, about two-thirds of the world’s population could face water shortages. If the emergency does not subside, water scarcity will adversely affect India’s industrial well-being. From the sandy and palm-fringed beaches of the northern Himalayas to the south, 600 million people - almost half of India’s population - face severe water shortages, with nearly 200,000 deaths each year from polluted water.

India has the second-largest population of 1.3 billion and is projected to increase to 1.7 billion by 2050, rendering India powerless to provide most of these masses with safe and clean water. With over 1.3 billion people living in the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas published by the World Resources Institute (WRI), India is among the 17 countries in the world experiencing extreme water scarcity. The report also notes that around 200,000 people die every year in India due to a lack of access to clean water.

ALSO READ | India Seventh Most Affected By Climate Change

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