Water crisis in India & what India can learn from other countries

Published: December 30, 2019

Every year 2 lac Indians due to inadequate access to safe water while 600 million face extreme water stress. With the rise in climatic changes, this issue is likely to get complicated in the coming future. The monsoon Rains have become more erratic and droughts becoming common thereby threatening harvest of farmers. It can cripple the livelihoods of an agricultural dominant country where 80% of water is used to irrigate crops like rice and sugarcane.
The country’s demand is likely to be twice of its supply, resulting in severe water scarcity of millions of people.

The current situation

India’s rising population is a major factor exacerbating the country’s water crisis. Extended summers and shortening winters have resulted in reducing snow cover and retreating Himalayan glaciers (as the ice melting from this area feeds country’s Northern rivers). Coupled with fickle monsoon, it threatens to disrupt the established crop patterns. Water pollution and poor management of resources have also contributed to its limited availability. A study of Delhi’s piped water system shows that 40% of the city’s water was lost due to pipe leakage and unauthorised connections.

Efficient water management examples

Israel has one of the most efficient technologies to handle water crisis. Israel’s drip and micro-irrigation system has allowed saving water while allowing nutrients to drip slowly to the roots of plants. An Israeli developed kit has allowed around 700 farming families in Senegal to reap a crop three times instead of just once. In Israel nearly 8% of the sewage water is recycled to be used for agriculture. An Israeli company Water-Gun ltd. captures humidity to make water out of air by sucking vapour from air. Israel is one of the driest nations , however it makes more freshwater than it requires using desalination.

Peru’s frog catcher, traps water drops from frog. In desert areas like the Peruvian coast there is a lock of rain, but fog is built at the top of hills. These catchers capture these micro droplets present in the air and are collected by a PVC gutter to flow through an organic filter into a tank. They are able to catch 200 to 400 litres of water everyday from a net.

The US SuntoWater technologies, uses nothing but salt and solar power to create clean drinking water. It begins with a unit of the size of an AC outside a building. Once activated its fans blow over a natural salt based element to absorb water from the air. The solar heat lets bake the liquid out of the salt and humid air is condensed to be collected in storage tank and exposed to UV light to eliminate bacteria resulting in clean water.

Recent steps by India

The government has launched the Atal Bhujal Yojana to tackle water shortages. It is a World Bank funded scheme aimed at improving groundwater management. The government announced this intention for management of groundwater resources in Budget 2016-17 with a cost of Rs 6000 crore. It seeks to strengthen the participatory framework for groundwater management and bring in behavioural changes at the community level. The government has advised farmers to switch to crops which use less water and wanted startups to come up with a solution for efficient usage of water resources.
In last seventy years only 3 of 18 crore households have got access to piped water supply. The government has set the target to deliver clean water to the rest of the 15 crore households during the next five years under the Jal Jivan Mission.

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