India is a country with a billion plus population struggling to provide fresh, safe and clean drinking water. Water scarcity in India has gone to the worst level in its history. According to the Government policy Think-Tank, Niti Aayog, about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe drinking water and millions of lives and livelihood are under threat. According to a NITI Aayog, currently, 600 million of Indians are at risk with extreme water stress. About three-fourth of the households in the country do not easy and affordable access have drinking water. India has access to 4% of useable water source while nearly 70% of freshwater being contaminated.
The NITI Aayog report further said that India is placed at 120th amongst 122 countries in the Water Quality Index. Unfortunately, Government of India doesn’t seem to be ready with strong solutions to address the crisis despite this kind of warnings. In a report of NITI Aayog in June 2018, 21 Indian cities are expected to run out of ground water by 2025. Per capita water availability has gone down year after year compare to the 1951 level. Per capita water availability was 5,177 cubic meters in 2001 and 2011 census figure shows that it declined to about 1820 cubic meters and 1545 cubic meters respectively which may reduce further to 1341 and 1140 in the years 2025 and 2050 respectively. Less than availability of 1700 cubic meters water per capita annually is considered as water stressed condition, whereas below 1000 cubic meters is considered as a water scarcity condition.
On May 31, 2019 Prime Minister Narendra Modi created a Ministry named Jal Shakti for the development and regulation of the water resources in India. He also launched a scheme called “Nal Se Jal” aims to provide piped water for every household by 2024. So, why has the availability of water been going down? There are some reasons for water scarcities including the following –
India is the agricultural country and, therefore, the consumption of water is high. Irrigation causes maximum water loss due to evaporation, drainage, and penetration. About 80% of irrigation depends on ground water which causes the rapid depletion of ground water. Mainly inefficient use of water or inefficient irrigation system has added to the ground water depletion.
Water demand is pushed up by the increasing of population, rapid urbanization, industrialization. Now, per capita water availability decreases as compared to earlier with the increasing of population.
Rapid urbanization is one of the main causes of water scarcity. Around 33% of the population resides in urban area and by 2025; it is going to touch 50%. The mechanism of ground water recharge affected by reduction of traditional water recharging areas, and the level of ground water has fallen.
Waste from industry or domestic release into the rivers, lakes resulted pollution of fresh water. The level of pollution of India’s main stream river such as Ganga, Yamuna is too high. Faecal coli form (FC) level is found 3 to 12 times higher than the permissible level in Ganga. The permissible limit for FC is 2,500 MPN (most probable number) /100 ml, while the desirable level is 500 MPN/100 ml. The highest level of FC counts 30,000 MPN/100 ml found in Bahrampur, West Bengal which is 12 times higher than the permissible level.
How to overcome this scarcity?
In monsoon, India receives enough water but unable to make good use due to poor management and water conservation infrastructure. Rainwater harvesting should be encouraged in large scale and government should take initiatives to harvest rainwater. We should encourage every Indian household for ground harvesting whether. They can harvest water in rooftops, balcony or garden area. The central government launched a water conservation drive targeting over 250 of India’s most water-stressed districts
Reuse of water
Government should train rural as well as urban householders on how to recycle the used water and convert into usable. Countries like Israel manages to use their 90% of waste water after recycling and Spain with 20% of their waste water.
Alternate irrigation process
80% of irrigation depends on the ground water resulted in depletion of ground water level. Government needs to find an alternate process for irrigation like by making long canals or interlinking of river.
Control of water pollution
Pollution of water resources is another major concern which is affecting the water supply as well as human health conditions. The major causes of water pollution are discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluent into rivers; excessive use of fertilizers in agriculture, etc. Government should take it seriously and step forward to control the pollution. This will help keep the water sources clean and reduce the future demand of water.
Usage of Ocean water
Oceans contain 70% of global water. In coastal areas, the future water shortage can be met by desalinating seawater. However, it is expensive but with solar power, desalination can be a viable alternative to meet the water needs in coastal areas.
The Article is written by Asif Karim who is a student of BSc in Medical Microbiology, Dehradun. He aspires to be civil servant and contributes in national building.