A nationwide water crisis awaits India six months from now as 21 major cities have been forecasted to run out of groundwater in 2020. Late monsoon rains and heat waves together with drying streams and rivers is something to be alarmed about.
Moreover, the Chennai water crisis is an example of the havoc that 2020 will be. The central government has already put in place the Ministry of Jal Shakti (water power) to oversee the water resource management but more needs to be done. According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report, which was released by the government think tank Niti Aayog in 2018, major cities across India such as Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Jaipur etc. Are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020, ‘affecting 100 million people’ in the process. By 2030, the reports says that India’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for millions of people and an eventual six per cent loss in the country’s GDP.
Furthermore, this will be added on by the government’s promise to provide piped water connections to every rural household by 2024. Experts say this indicates a clear disconnect between water, society and the economy. The World Health Organization says that an individual requires about 25 litres of water for their daily use, for both drinking and cleaning. It points out that for non-potable uses, a quality lower than drinking water can be used; and for economic efficiency and environmental sustainability, water must be treated and supplied according to usage.
The United Nations Human Rights report said the world is fast moving towards a ‘climate apartheid’ where only the wealthy can afford basic resources in the face of deadly droughts, famine and heatwaves. Climate change is in fact making lives for the poor and need worse. Governments should take this seriously and come up with better management of water resources and policies to help tackle the situation. By looking at the plight of millions of people in Chennai, the government at the centre should put in place a special taskforce to ensure that in the near future, the people of India are ready for similar events.