Investigating the Water Scarcity Crisis in India

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Indian cities are growing quickly, and the country is anticipated to experience unprecedented urbanization in the next ten years as a result of rising migration. In this context, it is crucial to adopt a comprehensive and realistic perspective on the water difficulties Indian cities face to develop and formulate policies that encourage the sustainable usage of water resources and build the water resilience of cities.

Using the Water Poverty Index, this study assesses the level of water scarcity across urban areas in India with a population of 42 million people or more (WPI). To determine if there is a water shortage, WPI takes into account both the physical availability of water and the accessibility of the resource to its users.

All facets of society, including individuals, businesses, civil society, and the government, must take prompt action to address the rapidly declining supply of beneficial and scarce water resources caused by the expanding population. Water is regarded as the elixir of life, yet excessive exploitation of this vital resource and inefficient water use across sectors as a result of poor policies have resulted in worldwide water scarcity.

The subject of World Water Day in 2007 was “Coping with Water Scarcity” (observed on March 22). In its latest Water Report, the (FAO) Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations warned against this quiet global disaster, which is robbing millions of people of the water they need to survive and support their way of life.

More than 600 million people are experiencing severe water shortages as a result of the country’s biggest water crisis, according to the 2018 NITI Aayog study “Composite Water Management Index.”

The approaching water stress and water scarcity being experienced in various parts of the world, as well as the dramatic increase in freshwater withdrawal from lakes, streams, aquifers, and man-made reservoirs, have all been highlighted in the United Nations Global Water Development Report of 2022.

 The scarcity of water is a real, palpable issue that can be quantified consistently over time and space.

The ability—or lack thereof—to satisfy water demands from humans and the environment is referred to as “water stress.”

“Water stress” is a better inclusive concept than “scarcity.”

It describes water scarcity in terms of the overall amount of water resources accessible to a population in a region, quantifying scarcity as the quantity of renewable freshwater available to each person each year.

The (2019) World Economic Forum lists the water problem as one of the century’s greatest challenges. There is widespread agreement that the current water problem in the world is solely the result of resource mismanagement. India is extremely susceptible to water stress and is not an exception to this (Schleifer, 2017).

Due to its rapid socioeconomic development and, more crucially, its inefficient use of water, India continues to see a large drop in its capita water availability, an estimate of water scarcity. Together with population expansion, the issue is also anticipated to get worse due to climate change. For instance, from 1816 cubic meters in 2001 to 1588 cubic meters in 2011, the amount of water available per person has decreased. Also, as of 2011, the country needed to import 30% of its water from neighboring countries to meet its necessities (Levy and Sidel, 2011).

Since water availability per person is decreasing, there is an urgent need to shift the emphasis from supply side administration to require side management in India, where water use efficiency is extremely poor across all sectors. Yet, this necessitates greater political will, extensive governance reforms, and institutional reorganization. Even though agriculture consumes over 85% of freshwater supplies, home water consumption is anticipated to quadruple by the middle of the century due to population increase and urbanization (2007 Amarasinghe et al).

Water scarcity concerns.

When there is a severe lack or scarcity of water, the typical reaction is to transport water from the backcountries or upper catchments or to withdraw it from aquifers or surface water bodies that have been stored there.

The movement of water between rural and urban areas is one such global topic that results in sectoral and regional competition.

Since the early 20th century, it has been more common for water to be transferred across borders between urban and rural regions.

According to a review article that was released in 2019 metropolitan water infrastructure imports 500 billion liters of water daily across a combined 27,000 kilometers, on average, from around the world. Inter-basin transfers are essential to at least 12% of major cities worldwide.

A UN report from 2016 titled “Transboundary Waters Systems – Status and Trend” connected the problem of water transfer with a number of SDGs that were slated to be accomplished between 2015 and 2030.

The report outlined three categories of water transfer risks: biophysical, socioeconomic, and governance. South Asia, which includes India, is considered to have the largest socioeconomic and biophysical dangers.

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