The World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, has ranked India 13th among 17 countries, on the list of ‘extremely high’ water stressed countries. India has more than three times the population of the other 16 countries in this category combined, the report, which ranked water stress, drought risk and riverine flood risk, across 189 countries and their sub-national regions, like states and provinces, said.
Northern India faces severe groundwater depletion, visualised on Aqueduct’s maps and included in calculations of water stress for the first time, according to the report. “The recent water crisis in Chennai gained global attention but various areas in India are experiencing chronic water stress, as well,” said Shashi Shekhar, former secretary of India’s Ministry of Water Resources and senior fellow, WRI India. “India can manage its water risk, with the help of reliable and robust data pertaining to rainfall, surface, and groundwater, to develop strategies that strengthen resilience,” Shekhar said in a statement.
In the 17 countries facing extremely high water stress, agriculture, industry and municipalities, are drinking up 80% of the available surface and groundwater, in an average year. When demand rivals supply, even small dry shocks – which are set to increase due to climate change – can produce dire consequences, researchers said. “Water stress is the biggest crisis no one is talking about. Its consequences are in plain sight, in the form of food insecurity, conflict and migration and financial instability,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute.
“A new generation of solutions is emerging but nowhere near fast enough. Failure to act, will be massively expensive in human lives and livelihoods,” Steer said in a statement. For example, in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) region, home to 12 of the 17 countries facing ‘extremely high’ stress, experts have pinpointed water scarcity, as a force that can exacerbate conflict and migration.
Rajya Sabha members raise issue of drinking water crisis
MPs in the Rajya Sabha have raised the issue of growing drinking water crisis in different parts of the country and demanded immediate interventions, such as inter-linking of rivers and rainwater harvesting
June 25, 2019: Raising the issue of increasing drinking water scarcity in different parts of the country through a Zero Hour mention, Rajya Sabha MP Satyanarayan Jatiya (BJP), said parts of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka have traditionally faced water crisis but now the problem has extended to fresh areas. “There has to be a permanent solution to the drinking water crisis,” he said, suggesting that five big river interlinking projects need to be taken up on a priority, so as to make excess water of one area available to deficit regions.
Ashok Bajpai (BJP) said a NITI Aayog report has stated that there will be a water crisis in parts of the country next year. While Rewati Raman Singh (SP) said a solution to the water crisis was to be found urgently, Saroj Pandey (BJP) stated that public awareness needs to be created on rainwater harvesting, so that the impending monsoon rains can be used to recharge the groundwater table.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said the issue raised was important and he was willing to allow a short discussion on the issue, if a notice for a short duration or a call attention was given. He advised members to consult amongst themselves and give such a notice.
T Subbarami Reddy (Congress) raised the issue of rising population, with India projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country in coming years. He demanded that incentives and disincentives should be formulated to promote family planning. Noting that the rise in population was putting a burden on the environment, economy and giving rise to unemployment, he said that without incentives and disincentives population could not be controlled.