New Delhi: “It is projected that by 2030 there will be a 40 per cent gap between water supply and water demand, and that half the global population will live in water-stressed areas by 2025 if current trends persist”, states the report of the International Resource Panel “Options for Decoupling Economic Growth from Water Use and Water Pollution”. Many Indian cities including Mumbai, Jaipur, Bhatinda, Lucknow, Nagpur, and Chennai are facing acute water shortages and an impending water crisis is forecast.
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The millennium city Gurugram (erstwhile Gurgaon), situated in a semi-arid area, is one of the affected places. The city depends on rain as its main source to recharge groundwater but, due to heavy urbanisation and industrialisation, the run-off from rain goes straight to sewers or stormwater drains. Overexploitation of water causes severe depletion in groundwater resources. A secondary outcome of this is the increase in land subsidence which refers to a gradual settling or sudden sinking of the Earth’s surface.
Speaking to NDTV, Rao Inderjit Singh, Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation and Planning said,
Whatever rain falls on Gurgaon must be allowed to go down to the aquifers. The only option left with the citizens here in their individual capacity is to recharge wherever they are stationed or housed.
Water scarcity is a growing crisis, requiring everyone’s involvement to mitigate the damage. Addressing this, Abhipsa Foundation has initiated a movement, WeForWater to avert ‘Day Zero’ and make India water positive by 2040. The core objective of this movement is to build and support water initiatives nationwide through collaboration, innovation and community participation.
WeForWater relies on four pillars to achieve water resilience – initiate; sustain; maintain; measure. The aim is to conserve the existing/advanced water-positive infrastructures, communities, landscapes and technological interventions.
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The organisation focuses on building community forests and biodiversity committees, reviving fresh and wastewater ponds, maintaining biodiversity parks, wastewater, stormwater and rainwater management, facilitating water-sensitive infrastructure and water auditing.
Ashish Dev Kapur, Vice-Chairperson, Abhipsa Foundation said,
For Gurgaon, let’s put more water back into the ground, just so that it is a great place for our children in the future.
India is the world’s largest user of groundwater. More than 80 per cent of the population is dependent on groundwater for drinking and agricultural purposes and groundwater extraction rates continue to increase. Gurugram is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan cities. An urgent need to address the sinking groundwater levels is by creating more rainwater harvesting pits.
Chetan Agarwal, Environment Analyst said,
To have groundwater, we shouldn’t use it indiscriminately instead we should use it as our fixed deposit (FD). As a result, in case there is a disruption in the water supply for a short while from the Yamuna then at least we have enough groundwater to subside the tide over.
According to a report titled “Composite Water Management Index”, published by NITI Aayog in June 2018, India is undergoing the worst water crisis in its history and nearly 600 million people are facing high to extreme water stress. The report further mentions that India ranks 120 amongst 122 countries in the Water Quality Index, with nearly 70 per cent of water being contaminated. The only way to meet this challenge is ‘we’ – government, society and corporates – work together against it.
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NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.