According to a report in the Times of India on World Water Day, March 23, 2018, Bengaluru could soon join Cape Town as two of the top metropolitan cities that are inexorably moving towards ‘Day Zero’ or a situation when taps run dry.
The water scarcity in India is at an all time high and the country’s capital, New Delhi, leads by example. Water is already being rationed in the city. From 1950 to 2011 the availability of water per person has come down 70%. According to a census conducted in 2011, on an average, the per capita availability of water in India, per annum, was 1545 cubic meters. In roughly 30 years, the per person availability of water, it is prognosticated, will drop to only 22% of what it is now.
The statistics are rather daunting. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) issued a statement declaring that the water table in Bengaluru decreased from 10-12 metres to 76-91 metres in the last two decades. The water crisis in the country is not a myth. It is a reality that is staring us in the face.
When we consider that out of all the water available on earth only 3% or 4% is fresh water, it doesn’t seem all that much. It is definitely not enough to cater to 18% of the world population that India is home to. Out of the 3 or 4% of the fresh water, only a negligible amount is fit for drinking. The rest is either wasted or polluted.
Irregular and insufficient rainfall has lead to droughts in many parts of the country in recent years. The Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, infamous for its farmer suicides, faces acute water shortage. Another city in Maharashtra, Chandrapur, has a small river running through it that caters to the water necessity of its inhabitants. This river, however, has dried up into puddles. The lack of the required technology to supply water for irrigation to drought hit areas is a result of government negligence.
The picture is not very different in the state of Tamil Nadu. The Godavari and Krishna rivers have almost dried up robbing the state of most of its source of fresh water. the coastal region of Andhra, south-west Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha and Chhattisgarh are facing an imminent water crisis. North India is also affected by this water shortage. The Narmada, which was dammed and the water emptied into the Sardar Sarovar Project, now runs dry from Bharuch.
More alarming is the fact that for lack of pure drinking water, people in many states are forced to consume contaminated water leading to health risks and even death. Rajasthan, West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab and Assam, in that order, are the worst offenders in this regard. Open defecation, industrial pollutants and rampant corruption within the political ranks render much of the available fresh water unfit for drinking or any kind of consumption.
If this is to change, a concerted effort needs to be made by the Indian government to conserve water that is available and recycle the water that is polluted. Lack of rainfall and rising temperatures due to global warming may contribute to the occurrence of droughts. However, a lot of the scarcity of water in India is because of the man made ills that plague everything else in the country.