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Source: The post is based on the article “How Serious Is India’s Water Crisis?” published in TOI on 22nd March 2023
What is the News?
On Independence Day in 2019, the Prime Minister set the goal to provide tap water to every rural household by 2024 and the country has made tremendous progress on this since.
Over 11.4 crore of India’s 19.4 crore rural households (59%) have been covered already, so the promise will likely be fulfilled by next year. But the big question is whether all households will regularly get enough water of the right quality.
How serious is India’s water crisis situation?
India could be a water-scarce country in the next 40 years. With 1,486 cubic metres (1. 5 million litres) of water available per person, per annum, India falls in the water-stressed category.
A dip below 1,000 cubic metres per person, per annum, will push it into the water-scarce category.
India practically depends on groundwater, which meets 62% of India’s irrigation needs, 85% of its rural water supply and 50% of its urban water supply.
Indiscriminate use of groundwater has turned 4% (260) of the total 7,089 assessed units in the country critical in 2022 while 14% (1,006 units) were assessed as over-exploited.
In India, 87% of groundwater is extracted for irrigation and experts say excess withdrawal around the year may be the biggest reason for depletion, as the recharge primarily happens in the monsoon.
Apart from this, the encroachment of water bodies and the discharge of untreated wastewater into rivers and streams have reduced surface water resources.
Statistics show 1. 6% (38,496) of India’s 24.2 lakh water bodies have already encroached while 53,396 of them in rural areas are not in use as they have dried up, silted or turned saline. Due to this, there is an increase in the use of groundwater.
What are the steps taken to address India’s water crisis?
National Aquifer Mapping Programme(NAQUIM)