Sources: The Hindu (Srikumar Chattopadhyay); Down to Earth (Mahesh Nathan)
News: Climate change has exacerbated water scarcity leading to rural-urban water disputes.
Reports showing growing water stress:
- UNESCO’s United Nations World Water Development Report of 2022 pointed toward impending water stress and water scarcity in different parts of the world due to a sharp rise in freshwater withdrawal from streams, lakes, aquifers, and human-made reservoirs.
- Theme of World Water Day (observed on March 22) in 2007 was ‘Coping with water scarcity.
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)’s new Water Report sounded a note of caution that the world is moving towards the silent water crisis of a global dimension, depriving millions of people of water to live and sustain their livelihood.
- An interactive web tool, Water Scarcity Clock, shows that currently over two billion people are experiencing high water stress and this number is increasing day by day.
- In the Global Drought Risk and Water Stress map (2019) major parts of India, are highly water-stressed and experiencing water scarcity particularly west, central, and parts of peninsular India.
- The Composite Water Management Index (2018) report by NITI Aayog shows that India is facing the worst water crisis with approximately more than 600 million people facing acute water shortages.
Current Global response towards water shortage or water scarcity: Transfer of water from the hinterlands/upper catchments or drawing it from stored surface water bodies or aquifers.
Issues associated with the above response:
- Sectoral and regional water competition due to inter-basin and inter-State transfers of water.
- Global concern of rural-urban transfer of water: Leading to biophysical, socio-economic, and governance risks. In the UN report on ‘Transboundary Waters Systems – Status and Trend’ (2016), India falls in the category of high biophysical and the highest socio-economic risks. In India, rural-urban transfer of water is a lose-lose situation as water is transported at the expense of rural areas and the agricultural sector.
- Unmet demand of growing Urban water use: Now India is urbanizing at a rapid pace and according to World Urbanization Prospects,2018 urban population component in India will cross the 40% mark by 2030 and the 50% mark by 2050 leading to a rise in per capita use of water in these centers due to improved standards of living.
- Dependence shifts to surface water: As in most cases to meet the growing demand of water, bulk of water supply is met through local sources of groundwater.
- Water Pollution due to rural-urban water transfer: Rural and urban areas use water from the same stock. But, in cities there is a lot of grey water without recovery or reuse, hence contributing to water pollution.
- Focus on ensuring water governance.
- Reallocation of water between urban and rural areas through catchment scale-based approaches.
- Adopting an integrated approach in water management through infrastructure investment,
- Fostering a rural-urban partnership to reduce water stress.
- Strengthening of institutions through adjustments in rapidly urbanizing regions.
- Water resource allocation at a regional level must be flexible.
- Ensuring gender equality in decision-making by involving women in designing, planning, and implementation of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programs.
Conclusion: The development process should not be jeopardized due to the state of India’s water resources on the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence.
- Water stress or Water scarcity is a leading global concern and most policy responses to address this concern is inter-basin and inter-state water mostly from rural-urban areas. But this policy has its own shortcomings like water pollution, regional competition for surface water and water disparity between urban and rural areas. Times call for new responses to deal with water stress and water scarcity.
Important facts for Prelims:
- World Water Day is on March 22. Theme of world water day 2022 is “Groundwater – Making the invisible visible”.
- United Nations World Water Development Report published by UNESCO on behalf of Un-Water.
- International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer or World Ozone Day is on 16 September 2022.
1.India’s growing water crisis, the seen and the unseen(The Hindu)
2.India’s water crisis: The seen and unseen(Down To Earth)