Data from the World Resources Institute (WRI) show that India is among the 17 countries that face extremely high levels of water stress.
- As per the data from WRI, one-fourth of the world population is facing extreme levels fo water crisis. Of this three-fourths of the population live in India.
- Extremely high levels of water stress mean withdrawal of 80% of the available supply of water for irrigation, industries, and municipalities in a year.
- Among the 17 countries, India stands at 13th place but the people who are facing the stress are three times more than the other 16 countries.
- WRI also sited the 2018 declaration by NITI Aayog about the severe levels of water crisis in the country and its impact on the lives of livelihoods of millions of people.
- Apart from rivers, lakes, and streams, groundwater too is overdrawn in the country. This is largely for irrigation.
- In northern areas, aquifers have lost to the tune of 8cm per year between 1990 and 2014.
- In its report, WRI has noted the steps taken in India to tackle the situation. This includes the setting up of the Jal Shakthi Ministry.
- It suggested some ways to pursue like efficient irrigation, conserving and restoring lakes, floodplains and groundwater recharging areas, and collecting and storing rainwater.
- As per WRI, since 1960 the water withdrawals have more than doubled across the world.
- While 17 countries face water withdrawals of more than 80%, 44 countries face high levels of stress where on average 40% of supply is withdrawn every year.
- Of the 17, 12 are in the middle east and North Africa. The region is hot and dry, the availability of water is low but there is a growing demand for water that has pushed countries to withdraw more water leading to stress.
- The WRI noted that climate change is set to complicate things as the region has the greatest expected economic losses due to water scarcity caused by climate change. This means an estimated 6-14% loss to GDP by 2050.
- The WRI also noted that even in countries that are facing low overall water stress, communities will face stress. It has sighted the cases of South Africa that is ranked 48 and the United States which is ranked 71.
- In South Africa, the world has witnessed the water crisis of Cape Town in 2018. In the US the New Mexico region will face extremely high water stress.
Water scarcity has become a severe problem in many countries. It is majorly human-induced. This is especially in India. High withdrawal of water in the country is for irrigation which is inefficient. To change the scenario radical steps are to be taken and Jal Shakthi Ministry is the first step.
The Ministry’s main aims are to provide clean drinking water to all and also tackle the water problems of the country. The data from the WRI will aid the Ministry in tackling the problem.