India staring at dry future, 600 million face high water stress: Niti Aayog report


New Delhi: India has a clear and present danger from water taps running dry in the coming years with as many as 600 million people likely to be affected by water shortage in the near future.

Niti Aayog’s composite water management index (CWMI) has pressed the alarm button and has highlighted that water shortage could explode into a full-blown crisis in the years to come. The report has predicted that major cities in the country could run out of groundwater by 2020 and that the country’s water demand could double by 2030. “Currently, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water,” the report reads.

States have been ranked on the basis of work done with regards to water management, restoration of groundwater, restoration of water bodies, irrigation and drinking water policies – among several others. While states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have fared reasonably well, populous states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana are at the other end and especially vulnerable. The report also highlights that the water index scores greatly vary from state to state.

Water scarcity is likely to have a direct as well as indirect impact on lives and livelyhood with more than 52 per cent of India’s agricultural sector reportedly dependent on monsoons.

Shortage of water is not just a massive threat in India but is fast becoming a global problem. Recently, Cape Town in South Africa grabbed headlines as the first major city to run out of water. Environmental experts have said many other cities around the world – India included – will run out of water in the very near future. Some have even warned that if emergency steps are not taken to address the issue, wars in future may well be fought over access to water.

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