Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Various water related issues in India

Water may become a very big source of deaths in India i.e. lack of water, polluted water and the fights/riots over water. Time is running out and there is really not much action on the ground. There are various organizations and activists working for it but what they need is support from you and me. Let us understand the various issues that we are facing right now.

1. Water scarcity - Increasing gap between demand and supply

Water demand in India is roughly distributed as follows: 90% agriculture, 5-6% industry and rest for domestics and other uses. Demand from domestic and industry sources is expected to increase with the growth in economy and population. It's not just the lack of water that is the problem but also the efficient usage of available water. For example, in irrigation 40-50% water is wasted because of inefficient management of water resources. Then government policies like provision of free electricity to farmers results in laxity on the part of farmers.

2. Depletion of groundwater

Underground water accounts for close to 50% of irrigation needs and most of the rural domestic needs. Whenever the the rate of extraction is more than the rate of replenishment, depletion of aquifers take place. And this is happening at a rapid pace in India.

3. Worsening quality of water

Water pollution is a very serious problem in India with over 70% of surface water and a lot of groundwater sources are already polluted with biological, toxic organic and inorganic wastes.

There are two broad categories of water pollution i.e. Point Source (direct emission into the rivers or other water bodies) and Non-Point Source(delivers pollutants indirectlyy through environmental change or transport). Another way to classify is agriculture, industry and domestic sources of pollution.

4. Disputes and fights over water

1) The Krishna-Godavari water dispute - Maharashtra, Karnatak, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa
2) The Cauvery water dispute - Tamil Nadu, Karnatak
3) The Ravi-Beas water dispute - Haryana, Jammu Kashmir, Rajsthan, Punjab
4) The Yamuna Dispute - Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh

5. Inaction on the part of the government

Inability of government to take serious steps is letting the situation go out of hand. 2500 crores have already been spent on cleaning of Ganga and Yamuna but no results have come out. Also, no one ministry is responsible for different water sources and causes of pollutions; lack of coordination among these ministries further makes the implementation difficult.

I will cover these issues in more details in coming blogs.

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