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Issue: #22 | May 2016

India's Water Woes

CEOs Note


Years of negligence and degradation of the

natural resources has become a bottleneck
for rapid growth and development. Water and
forests are major components of the ecosystem which are necessary for sustainable
development. Water and forest conservation
should be the top priority of the government,
especially when the nation is already
experiencing the consequences of global
warming. It is unfortunate that large parts of
India are reeling under water scarcity due to
two successive years of drought. Most of the reservoirs, barrages, wells
etc have either dried up or reached minimum levels. Therefore, water
conservation and afforestation at a massive scale has become the
need of hour.
As a nation we need to adopt sustainable measures to replenish water
and increase green cover with the help of the local communities. Before
the monsoons, India needs to develop water conservation structures
which will help revive the rivers and rivulets, recharge ground water and
ll our reservoirs. In the years to come India will have to ensure
sustainable lifestyle is being promoted to stop wastage of water and
deforestation. The corporations can help develop technologies for
desalination, recycle and purication of water. Huge investments will be
required to increase access to drinking water and deal with industrial
efuents. I believe this an opportunity for us to retrospect and work
towards sustainable development not only to fulll our immediate needs
but to meet the demands of the future generations as well. Let's hope
that we are able to survive the crisis and dedicate ourselves specially
towards water conservation, else we might have to import water in the
years to come.

India might be facing the

worst water crisis in its history
due to successive droughts in
major regions of the country.
The gravity of the situation
can be understood by the fact
that there is only 24% water
availability in 91 reservoirs
(62% of India's storage
capacity). States such as
Maharashtra, Karnataka,
Telangana, Andhra Pradesh,
Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan are
facing severe water crisis.
Water Trains are now being sent to the water starved regions in Maharashtra. Years of
ignorance towards water conservation has led to a situation of severe distress across
the country due to shortage of water for drinking and irrigation. There is large scale
migration taking place due to water crisis, especially from Bundelkhand.
Rather than focusing on short term solutions only, India needs to start water
conservation as a long term sustainability measure. Other than government
initiatives, the corporations can also lend their support towards this acute situation
which can passively effect the Indian Economy at large. Corporations like the Tata
Group, HUL, Godrej, Bisleri, Rallis India, RPG Enterprises, etc should actively
participate to ease the crisis in drought-prone regions. The government is also
collaborating with Germany, Israel and the UK to nd possible answers to the water
management issues. The recent Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predictions
of above average monsoon have brought some respite for the Indian economy. It will
be interesting to see how India capitalises on the opportunities for preventive
measures for water conservation in the future. Rainwater harvesting, watershed
development, linking of major rivers, irrigation canals, reservoirs, open spaces,
bunding, etc are methods which needs to be implemented at large scale in regions of
water scarcity.

Retrospec on - 54% of India faces high to extremely high water stress

Groundwater level, over exploited across India in 1,701 of 6,607 units. The
national supply of water is predicted to fall 50% below demand by 2030.
54% of India faces High to Extremely High Water Stress levels. Almost 600
million people are at a higher risk of surface water supply disruptions.
The Extremely High Stress area lies in North-West India.
54% of India's groundwater wells are decreasing.
More than 100 million people exist in areas of poor water quality.
More than 70% of India's surface water resources are polluted by human
waste or toxic chemicals.

Baseline water stress

(withdrawals/available suppy)

Low to Medium(10-20%)
Medium to High(20-40%)
Extremely High(>80%)
Arid & Low Water Use

Over the next 20 years, 60% of the groundwater is predicted to be in a

critical state of degradation.
It is estimated that the country would need 1,180 billion cubic meter (BCM)
of water annually by 2050.

Water The Not So Abundant Resource

People who believe that the next world war will be for water, have raised alarms for the need to focus on conservation of this precious resource. For a developing
country like India, water scarcity is a hindrance to growth and certainly a catalyst to other social problems which can completely lead the country to disarray. The two
successive years of less monsoon has put India on the back-foot. The situation has made it imperative to reconsider the policies on water conservation. Water
scarcity with the inux of global warming has almost crippled life in major portions of rural India. The only hope left is the monsoon and the counter strategies to
address the current scenario.
There are lessons that needs to be learnt from this grave situation. Rather than just wait for the rains to hide the tears, India needs to start water conservation efforts
at an unprecedented scale. Financial support needs to be provided from the government, corporations and individuals. Community participation and diversion of
development can ensure building of water conservation infrastructure. The government already has plans to initiate water conservation measures through the
MGNREGA and is encouraging Public-Private-Partnership projects to ensure that such initiatives can be expedited. Corporations should be sensitize on water
usage and recycling methodologies in their operations. Through sustainability and CSR initiatives corporations can lend their major support for water conservation
and also incorporate their operations on sustainable water usage practices. Alternate technologies, recycling, desalination, etc are few of the processes which the
corporations should genuinely emphasis apart from their contribution through CSR activities.
Contributions from individuals and communities to build water harvesting structures in their residence and locality will denitely be required. Concrete structures in
urban areas often being used to preserve the rain water and to optimize the ground water level. A planned infrastructure development has to be brought in place to
resort the problem. People should be encouraged to build rainwater harvesting structures in houses. This way we as citizens can also help solve the crisis other than
reducing water wastage in our daily lives.
Water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime and our children's lifetime. The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land.
- Luna Leopold

Food for Thought

Per-capita availability of fresh water is down to 1,121 cubic metres from 3,000 cubic metres over the past 50 years.
Keeping in view the acute water crisis in several parts of the country, the Centre has released Rs. 823 crore to tackle the situation.
The Central Water Commission said that India's major dams were at just 27% of their capacity and well short of the 10-year average, and 91 reservoirs were
30% below last year's levels.

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