Deepening Water Crisis in India – UPSC GS3

Summary: India’s water crisis will increase in future, so the government, people, and all should come together to solve the issue.
  • Draft National Water Policy has been submitted by the Mihir Shah committee.
What are the reasons behind the water crisis in India?
  • Lack of sustainable urban planning: Many cities in India are developing by encroaching flood plains and reducing green cover. This will reduce the water retention capacity of the city. This is reflected exactly in Chennai. The city face floods during rainfall and droughts during the shortage of rainfall.
  • Continuous extraction of groundwater: In the rural areas, 80%-90% of the drinking water and 75% of the water used for agriculture is drawn from groundwater sources. In urban areas, 50%-60% of the water supply is drawn from groundwater sources.
    • A case of Punjab: The success of the green revolution and continuous cultivation of water-intensive crops in Punjab has turned the water into saline. The draft report of the Central Ground Water Board concluded that Punjab would be reduced to a desert in 25 years if the extraction of its groundwater resources continues unabated
  • Ever-increasing demand: The composite water management index of NITI Aayog, points out that by 2030, the demand for water is projected to be twice the available supply. The introduction of Jal Jeevan Mission will play a significant role in this.
What can be done to address water crisis?
  • Integrate the ongoing work of different Ministries and Departments: This will enhance coordination and protect water bodies, groundwater sources, wetlands and green cover. It will also enhance wastewater recycling and water recharge activities. Note: In 2019, Ministries of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation were merged as the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • Replenish groundwater: The government has to create a participatory groundwater management approach with a combination of water budgeting, aquifer recharging and community involvement.
  • Water governance and management plans with expert opinions: Increase interactions from the expertise of fields such as hydrology (watershed sustainability), hydrogeology (aquifer mapping and recharge) and agriculture sciences (water-sensitive crop choices and soil health).
In conclusion, India needs to encourage conserving water resources and efficient usage of water.
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