Building Water Security

  • IASbaba
  • November 1, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Indian Economy & Challenges

Building Water Security

Context: PM Narendra Modi spoke of the need to focus on long-term water security at the recent launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission app.

Water Crisis in India

  • As per the Groundwater Resource Estimation Committee’s report (from 2015), 1,071 out of 6,607 blocks in the country are over-exploited; this is likely to have worsened over the years.
  • More than a third of the country’s population lives in water-stressed areas, and this number is expected to shoot up. 
  • Per capita water availability in the country had fallen to just under a third of 1950 levels by 2011, both because of rising population and increasing unsustainable use.
  • 82% of rural households in India do not have individual piped water supply and 163 million live without access to clean water close to their homes.

Reasons for Water Crisis in India

  • Agriculture: 
    • Agriculture accounts for 78% of all freshwater used annually in the country, with 64% of this chunk being from groundwater 
    • The rapid rise in tubewell-irrigation and the acreage under water-guzzling crops like sugarcane and paddy has left India under acute groundwater distress.
    • Over half of India’s cultivated land is under water-intensive crops. Fifty-four percent of India’s 141.4 million hectares of cultivable land is under water-intensive crops—rice, wheat, sugarcane, and cotton.
    • Poor Water efficiency: India uses at least twice the amount of water to grow one unit of food versus comparable countries
  • Growing Population:
    • By 2030, India’s water demand will exceed supply by two times, indicating severe water scarcity in the country. 
    • In fact, 820 million Indians living in 12 river basins have a per capita water availability close to or lower than 1,000 cubic metres—the official threshold for water scarcity. 
    • The average all-India per capita water availability is expected to be 1,341 cubic metres by 2025, and touch a low of 1,140 cubic metres by 2050, close to the official water scarcity threshold.
  • Slow Implementation of Schemes:
    • The Atal Bahujal Yojana (ABY) dashboard shows that the expenditure against the targets set under various heads, as also the release of funds, has been alarmingly low for the past as well as the present year.
  • Other factors include wastage of water due to lack of awareness, lack of water conservation methods in Industries, poor water recycling & inadequate usage of rainwater.

Way Forward

  • National Water Policy 2020 gives the “highest priority to groundwater governance and management” through a “Participatory Groundwater Management (PGWM)” approach. All stakeholders have to implement this policy in right spirit.
  • Government needs to stop encouraging (via MSP-led procurement, SAP/FRPs) cultivation of water-intensive crops; crop diversification is a crucial step towards this.
    • 2018 PM-AASHA (Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan) proposes up to 40% procurement of crops that are not as water-intensive (millets, nutricereals) 
  • Pricing of water, timely data on usage/availability/depletion, etc, also need policy attention.

Connecting the dots:

Can you answer this question?

Enlightened water policy needs infrastructure. But more than that, it requires institutions with local and village ownership. Analyse.

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