A growing concern - How soon will India run out of water - Paper published in the Journal of Global Health
This paper published in the Journal of Global Health sheds light on the grave water scarcity that the country could face in the coming years and warns that this could happen in as few as twenty years as the demand for water continue to exceed the sources of supply. The paper argues that this will have a negative effect on the public health and sanitation situation in the country and urgent steps thus need to be taken to deal with this situation.
29 Dec 2012
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The paper informs that groundwater accounts for about 50%-80% of domestic water use and 45%-50% of the irrigation in the country. This heavy reliance on groundwater for both domestic water and irrigation purposes is now approaching its limit as an increasing number of aquifers reach unsustainable levels after decades of exploitation.The potential social and economic consequences of weak or nonexistent groundwater management are serious because aquifer depletion is concentrated in many of the most populated and economically productive areas in the country and falling water tables arelikely to affect progress in education, health, gender, child mortality, poverty, and hunger.

The paper argues that the tragedy of India’s water scarcity is that the crisis could have been largely avoided with better water management practices. There has been a distinct lack of attention to water legislation, water conservation, efficiency in water use, water recycling, and infrastructure based efforts in the country. The situation can be managed to some extent through dedicated artificial recharge structures in rural areas and rooftop water harvesting structures in urban areas that can lead to total of 36 billion cubic meters to groundwater recharge.

However, the paper argues that this is not enough. Efforts to address excessive groundwater exploitation  to also concentrate largely on the promotion of appropriate measures to manage demand, too. Dry season crop planning, adoption of modern precision irrigation technologies, restrictions to control groundwater abstraction either voluntary (through community based management approaches) or through regulatory measures should be part of the broader solution to deal with this grave impending crisis.

A copy of the paper can be accessed at this link

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