India Water Crisis; 600 Million People Affected
India is experiencing the worst water crisis in its history and many have predicted it will get worse in the coming years. For multiple reasons, India is running out of water.
This water scarcity has affected around 600 million people in one of the most populated countries in the world, thus threatening food security.
But it could get worse in the coming years. In fact, 21 cities are likely to run out of groundwater by 2020 due to increasing demand. In addition, by 2030, water availability will be half what India needs. This could cripple the country’s GDP by 6%.
The worst outcome also may reach the point that millions will die due to extreme water scarcity. Recent reports say round 200,000 Indians die every year because they have no access to clean water.
Out of 29 states in India, 24 of these are badly hit by extreme water scarcity.
If the government is determined to find a solution to this prevailing problem, identifying the culprits for this water crisis is crucial.
According to thinktank, the loss rate across India is even worse and many blame it on reckless agricultural activities. In fact, researchers estimate 50% of the country’s usable water leaks from pipes or is wasted, especially by farmers, nearly all of whom irrigate their fields in the most inefficient and reckless way possible, simply flooding crops with vast quantities of water. This would also threaten food security as 80% of water is used in agriculture.
If groundwater is used up by agricultural undertakings, the result is lack of access to clean water for rural residents as well. According to data by the Central Pollution Control Board, nearly half of the country’s 445 rivers are polluted for safe consumption without extensive treatment. With nearly 70 per cent of water being contaminated, India is placed at 120th among 122 countries in the water quality index.
Aside from that, the summer heat and decline in average rainfall are also affecting the supply of water to Indian cities and towns especially they lack the infrastructure to deliver piped water to every home. Reports say officials also blamed an 82% shortfall in winter rain and snow for the shortage of water in some states.
The Affected Cities
It is predicted that 21 densely populated cities will run out of groundwater by 2020, sending alarm to policy makers and urban planners. These cities include Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, which accounts for around 100 million people. Delhi topped for having the highest water demand among these cities.
In addition, Bengaluru’s ground water level has reached zero and most city dwellers are dependent on private water tankers for its water supply. In two years time and with population expected to rise to more than 2 million, this IT city will likely experience water shortages.
In another IT city such as Hyderabad, there is a shortfall of drinking water by 45-47 per cent. This was blamed on poor rains that caused low water levels in reservoirs.