India is facing one of its major and most serious water crisis.
According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the Niti Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and others) are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020. India is fast approaching towards a situation where only the wealthy can afford basic resources in the face of fatal droughts, famine, and heatwaves. In some places in India, disaster has already arrived. The four reservoirs that supply Chennai, India’s sixth-largest city are nearly dry.
Hundreds of thousands of residents wait in line each day to fill their pots at government water tankers, and critical services like hospitals and schools are struggling. As water runs out, the country may have to confront situations such as food insecurity, vulnerability during heat waves, disease due to deteriorating sanitation and conflicts over water access.
DECREASE IN RAINFALL, DEPLETING GROUNDWATER AND DRY RESERVOIRS: INDIA’S WORSENING WATER CRISIS HAS JUST BEGUN
The dependence on groundwater has increased and the groundwater resource is depleting. Droughts and erratic rainfall, and over-extraction of groundwater has led to a 61 percent fall in groundwater. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have already made headlines for what can only be described as an emergency.
With nearly 50 percent of the country grappling with water shortage, the crisis seems far from over. Excessive demand, coupled with mismanaged resources, and erratic weather patterns have only added fuel to the fire.
DEFICIT IN RAINFALL
Peninsular India recorded a 38 percent deficiency, while the situation in Central India is much worse with a 54 percent rainfall deficit. Until June 20, the situation in the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and parts of Madhya Pradesh was not far from being classified as drought-hit.
THE ROAD AHEAD
ARE WE GUILTY OF NOT TAKING THE WATER CRISIS SERIOUSLY?
Looking at the current situation, there is a need for a paradigm shift. We urgently require a transition from this ‘supply-and-supply-more water’ to measures which lead towards improving water use efficiency, reducing leakages and recharging /restoring local water bodies.
India also relies excessively on groundwater, which is available in over 50 percent of its irrigated area and has 20 million tube wells. Interestingly, about 15 percent of India’s food is being produced using rapidly depleting groundwater. To ensure that the resource is not extinguished, other methods of irrigation must also be employed.
It is time to go back and start using our traditional practice of rainwater harvesting — catching water where it falls. Presently, India captures only eight percent of its annual rainfall, among the lowest in the world.
Written By:- Ms. Shiva Sharma, Teacher – MRIS 21C, Faridabad