Best time to address water crisis was ten years ago, the next best time is now(Financial Express)
Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Water stress
Mains level: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources
- The water situation in India is grave owing to tremendous water-stress, depleting aquifers, dying rivers and large chunks of land facing desertification.
- The net water availability, close to 700 BCM, appears to meet the present demand, but a tremendous variation in rainfall patterns and surface water regimes make areas like the northeast water-rich while others like the southwest and west extremely water-scarce.
- Increasing population, rapid urbanisation, climate change and other drivers are only further widening the demand-supply gap by increasing the demand at approximately 10% per annum.
- Timeline of investment in water infrastructure:
- Over the last few decades, India has made large investments in water infrastructure (estimated at Rs 350-400 per capita annually under various schemes), ~Rs 430 billion under JNNURM, ~Rs 200 billion under Smart Cities, ~Rs 80 billion under AMRUT and Rs 50-100 billion each year for NRDWP.
- Although the country has benefitted from these investments, the coverage remains poor with 82% rural population, about 163 million still bereft of piped water.
- Water, unfortunately, remains a pending agenda contrary to the other sectors.
- Water is a state subject, and its governance structure has a fragmented and complex interface with lack of coordination, accountability and transparency.
- Jal Shakti, an aggregate water ministry, is a welcome step for ameliorating various water institutions.
- An independent, transparent regulator with a vision for local issues, could catalyse the depoliticisation of the water arena.
- Unregulated and free access to groundwater has resulted in exploitation.
- Water-intensive activities in water-scarce regions must be stringently regulated.
- There is a need for enhancement of inter-state trade that promotes responsible access to water.
- The use of new-age methods to transform the water sector in order to provide alternative sources and improve efficiency can ultimately reduce water stress.
- This includes non-revenue water reduction—smart real-time monitoring, metering at various levels and automation will ensure a reduction in systems losses; circular economy—encouraging recycle and reuse by various programmes like the NMCG, development of reuse policies like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu; desalination—developing formal policy and building upon existing efforts with due considerations to overarching use of renewable energy to reduce its environmental impact.
- NITI Aayog has proposed desalination along India’s vast coastline.
- Awareness regarding subsidies that go into the water system could increase accountability. Irrigation being the top-most water consumer at 80% usage, has an efficiency as low as 45%.
- Rainwater harvesting, efficient plumbing fixtures, recycling greywater, and micro-irrigation need to be incentivised.
- • Addressing water risks requires the fundamental shift, from enhancing short-term systemic performance to ensuring equally long-term resilience.
- • The best time to act to address the water crisis was ten years ago, the next best time is now.
Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam
E-Books Download for UPSC IAS Exams
General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Material
Q.1) With reference to the Jal Jeevan Mission, consider the following statements:
1. Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) aims at the universal coverage of provision of tap water connection to every rural home by 2034.
2. Under the mission, special focus is on women and children.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.1) Do you think the use of new-age methods could transform the water sector in order to provide alternative sources and improve efficiency can ultimately reduce water stress? Comment.