Q. Is India facing an acute water crisis? What are some of the major steps taken by the government in this regard?
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Replied by Heena Samant

Yes, India is currently facing an unprecedented water crisis. According to a report published by Niti Aayog, a premier policy Think Tank of Government of India, in 2018 titled ‘Composite Water Management Index’, India is undergoing the worst water crisis in its history. Additionally, there are several other information that has been provided in the report as far as the severity of the crisis is concerned. The report mentions that more than 600 million people are facing acute water shortages and critical groundwater resources which account for 40% of our water supply are being depleted at unsustainable rates. 75% of the households in the country do not have drinking water on premise and 84% rural households do not have piped water access. It was also mentioned that 70% of the country’s water is contaminated and India is currently ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index. Droughts are becoming more frequent thus impacting agriculture as approximately 53% of the India’s agriculture is rain fed. Another issue India faces is the rise of interstate water disputes which further highlights the fact that limited frameworks and institutions are in place as far as national water governance is concerned. There have also been some future predictions about the water situation of India in the report which is of concerning nature. It has been predicted that 40% of the population will have no access to drinking water by 2030 and 21 cities including New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad will run out of groundwater by 2020 affecting 100 million people. The report also mentions that 6% of India’s GDP will be lost by 2050 due to water crisis under business-as-usual circumstance.

Although the situation seems dire, there is still scope for optimism as the current government has introduced various measures and policies to deal with the crisis. Some of them are the Jal Jeevan Mission which aims to provide tap water to all the rural households without access to tap water, National River linking project, Atal Bhujal Yojana which is a scheme introduced to improve groundwater management through community participation, Ganga River Rejuvenation project which was introduced with the objective of decreasing the pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of the National River Ganga, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) which was formulated with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet Ko Paani’ and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop’ in a focused manner with end to end solution on source creation, distribution, management, field application and extension activities. As these are some very important policies and schemes, we are yet to see as to how the future unfolds.

Date : 25/03/2021
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