[Answered] India is facing a situation of water crisis in coming times. In context of environmental challenges and increasing population of India, discuss the situation. How India should manage the developing crisis situation?

Demand of the question
Introduction. Give some facts
Body. Write various issues.
Conclusion. Way forward and solution.

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, affecting access for 100 million people. Although India has made improvements over the past decades to both the availability and quality of municipal drinking water systems, its large population has stressed planned water resources and rural areas are left out. In addition, rapid growth in India’s urban areas has stretched government solutions, which have been compromised by over-privatisation.

Issues-

  • Freshwater deficit- India’s water needs are dependent mainly on monsoon. Environmental changes and increasing population combined with lack of overall long-term availability of water resources is a cause of concern. While India’s aquifers are currently associated with replenishing sources, the country is also a major grain producer with a great need for water to support the commodity. Lack of strict state regulation on groundwater development has caused a strain on the amount of freshwater available. This put enormous stress on limited water resources.
  • Unsafe and Poor quality- Regardless of improvements to drinking water, many other water sources are contaminated with both bio and chemical pollutants, and over 21% of the country’s diseases are water-related. Furthermore, only 33% of the country has access to traditional sanitation. This lead to unavailability of clean and drinking water and endanger Indian population health.
  • Groundwater stress- Many rural communities in India who are situated on the outskirts of urban sprawl also have little choice but to drill wells to access groundwater sources. There is no easy answer for India which must tap into water sources for food and human sustenance, but India’s overall water availability is under enormous stress.
  • Demographic needs- Children in 100 million homes in the country lack water, and one out of every two children are malnourished. Environmental justice needs to be restored to India so that families can raise their children with dignity, and providing water to communities is one such way to best ensure that chance.
  • Corruption and lack of planning- India’s water crisis is often attributed to lack of government planning, increased corporate privatisation, industrial and human waste and government corruption. In addition, water scarcity in India is expected to worsen as the overall population is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by year 2050. To that end, global water scarcity is expected to become a leading cause of conflict in the future.

Solution-

  • Rain catchment programs- As as most of the water is displaced or dried up instead of used, rain catchment programs must be framed and put in place. Collected water can be immediately used for agriculture, and with improved filtration practices to reduce water-borne pathogens, also quickly available for human consumption.
  • Drip irrigation- India is considered as exporter of water due to export of water guzzling agricultural crops like rice, sugarcane. As with all countries with large agricultural output, excess water consumption for food production depletes the overall water table. Drip irrigation reduce water wastage and also ensure food security.
  • Long-term planning- Instead of relying on quick-fix proposals based on faulty logic, the city and state authorities should focus on addressing what underlies the actual problem. Reservoir depletion in general and a falling water table in particular. There should be government regulation, to curb the amount of groundwater a household can extract. This water should be metered and priced.
  • Mapping- Indian cities have failed so miserably in mapping their groundwater reserves that a good policy framework is hard to adopt. Without a clue on how much water lies down there, neither can proper rules be framed nor prices be set. The National Project on Aquifer Management has begun taking tentative steps towards mapping large aquifers, but micro-level data of the kind that exists in some parts of Europe would be essential to the exercise.
  • Awareness- More efforts to create awareness on water shortage, share knowledge of traditional methods of water storage and share information about individuals and NGOs working on water conservation is needed.
  • Farm ponds- Farm ponds are constructed near the farming field. The rain water which runs off the ground are collected by these ponds. These ponds helps agriculture in dry lands.

There is a clear disconnect between water, society and economy. Currently, we are interested in laying large networks, constructing huge storage dams, fetching water from 150 kilometres and above, which involves a huge carbon footprint. We need to promote a decentralised approach, with a key focus on water conservation, source sustainability, storage and reuse wherever possible.

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