Water in India
India is endowed with a rich and vast diversity of water resources. India has seasonal rainfall with high temporal and spatial variability. 50% of precipitation in a year falls in just 15 days and over 90% of rivers flow in just four months. But water management practices in India are sadly lacking and a situation of water shortage in India has resulted which is only getting worse.
Water Issues in India
According to the recent report on Water in India from India-Reports, the various issues related to Water Management in India are given below:
• River Pollution: All of India’s fourteen major river systems are heavily polluted, mostly from the 50 million cubic metres of untreated sewage discharged into them each year
• Water Conflicts: Severe water shortages have already led to a growing number of conflicts across the country. Nearly 90% of India’s territory is drained by inter-state rivers. The lack of clear allocation rules and uncertainty about water sharing has led to major disputes between states.
• Ground Water Pollution: The primary reasons are industrial pollution and extensive farming leading to agrochemical pollution of the groundwater. In case of industries, it is due to lack of treatment of effluents that are pumped into rivers and streams leading to groundwater pollution.
• Poor management, crumbling infrastructure and depleting resources: By 2020, India’s demand for water will exceed all sources of supply. India’s past investments in large water infrastructure have yielded spectacular results with enormous gains in food security and in the reduction of poverty. However, much of this infrastructure is now crumbling. Faced with poor water supply services, farmers and urban dwellers alike have resorted to helping themselves by pumping out groundwater through tube wells. Today, 70% of India’s irrigation needs and 80% of its domestic water supplies come from groundwater. A number of areas are already in crisis situations: among these are the most populated and economically productive parts of the country.
• Corruption: About one in 10 households paid bribes to regularize their water connection
• Inadequate storage capacity: Developed, arid countries (United States, Australia) have built over 5000 cubic metres of water storage per capita. Middle-income countries like South Africa, Mexico, Morocco and China can store about 1000 cubic metres per capita. India’s dams can store only 200 cubic metres per person. India can store only about 30 days of rainfall, compared to 900 days in major river basins in arid areas of developed countries.
• Aquifer Depletion: Already about 15% of India’s food is being produced using
non-renewable, “mined”, groundwater.
There is clearly an urgent need for action. First, India needs a lot more water infrastructure. Compared to other semi-arid countries, India can store relatively small quantities of its fickle rainfall. New infrastructure needs to be built, from large multipurpose water projects to small community watershed management and rainwater harvesting projects.
Read about the Water Resources and Water Management Practices in India at http://www.india-reports.com/summary/water.aspx