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Kirtana Krishna

Jun 9, 2015

Write a report on "water scarcity in present India".

 Write a report on "water scarcity in present India".



Akshaya Krupa

While water is a renewable resource, it is at the same time a finite resource. The total quantity of water available on the globe is the same as it was two thousand years ago.

Water Scarcity

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It is important to appreciate the fact that only 3 per cent of the world’s water is fresh and roughly one-third of it is inaccessible. The rest is very unevenly distributed and the available supplies are increasingly contaminated with wastes and pollution from industry, agriculture and households.

Over the years, increasing population, growing industrialisation, expanding agriculture and rising standards of living have pushed up the demand for water. Efforts have been made to collect water by building dams and reservoirs and creating ground water structures such as wells. Recycling and desalination of water are other options but cost involved is very high.

However, there is a growing realisation that there are limits to ‘finding more water’ and in the long run, we need to know the amount of water we can reasonably expect to tap and also learn to use it more efficiently.

It is the human nature that we value things only when they are scarce or are in short supply. As such we appreciate the value of water once the rivers, reservoirs, ponds, wells, etc. run dry. Our water resources have now entered an era of scarcity. It is estimated that thirty years from now, approximately one-third of our population will suffer from chronic water shortages.

The increasing demands on fresh water resources by our burgeoning population and diminishing quality of existing water resources because of pollution and the additional requirements of serving our spiralling industrial and agricultural growth have led to a situation where the consumption of water is rapidly increasing and the supply of fresh water remains more or less constant.

It may be maintained that the water available to us is the same as it was before but the population and the consequent demand for water has increased manifold. The consequences of scarcity will be more drastic in arid and semi-arid regions. Water shortage will also be felt in rapidly growing coastal regions and in big cities. Several cities are already, or will be, unable to cope with the demand of providing safe water and sanitation facilities to their inhabitants.

Indicators of water stress and scarcity are generally used to reflect the overall water availability in a country or a region. When the annual per capita of renewable fresh water in a country or a region falls below 1,700 cubic metres, it is held to be situation of water stress. If the availability is below 1,000 cubic metres, the situation is labelled as that of water scarcity.

And when the per capita availability falls below 500 cubic metres, it is said to be a situation of absolute scarcity (Engelman and Roy, 1993). These are also the fundings of a study conducted by the Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI). This concept has been propounded by Malin Falkenmark on the premise that 100 litres a day (36.5 cubic metres a year) is roughly the minimum per capita requirement for basic household needs and to maintain good health, roughly 5 to 20 times that amount is needed to satisfy the requirement of agriculture, industry and energy.

At the time of Independence, i.e., in 1,947, the per capita availability of water in India was 6,008 cubic metres a year. It came down to 5,177 cubic metres a year in 1951 and to 1,820 cubic metres a year in 2001. According to midterm appraisal (MTA) of the 10th Plan, per capita availability of water is likely to fall down to 1,340 cubic metres in 2025 and 1,140 cubic metres in 2050.

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