New Delhi: “India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history,” states the report released by WaterAid, a non-profit organisation, titled ‘Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019,’ to mark World Water Day on March 22. The report further states that India has accounted for almost one-fourth of the total groundwater extracted globally, more than that of China and the US combined. The report warns that food and clothing imported by wealthy Western countries are making it harder for many poor and marginalised communities to get a daily clean water supply as high-income countries buy products with considerable “water footprints” – the amount of water used in production, from water, scarce countries.
Here are five takeaways from the WaterAid report – Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019:
1. By 2040 it is predicted that 33 countries are likely to face extremely high water stress – including 15 in the Middle East, most of Northern Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Spain. Many – including India, China, Southern Africa, USA and Australia – will face high water stress.
2. Almost to four billion people live in water-scarce areas globally, where, for a good part of the year, demand exceeds supply. Out of the billion people, 600 million people live in extreme water stress.
3. India accounts for almost one-fourth of the total groundwater extracted globally, more than that of China and the US combined, using the largest amount of groundwater 24 per cent of the global total. India’s rate of groundwater depletion has increased by 23 percent between 2000 and 2010.
4. By 2030, India’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for 40 per cent of the people. The think tank also predicts that 70 percent of the water will be contaminated by then.
5. ‘Rice is the least water-efficient grain,’ says the report. In 2014-2015, India being the biggest exporter of rice, exported 37.2 lakhs of ‘basmati’ rice. To export the rice, the country has used around 10 trillion litres of water, which is equivalent to India ‘exporting 10 trillion litres of water,’ the report highlighted.
WaterAid India’s Chief Executive VK Madhavan, said this World Water Day (March 22), it is calling for production of goods that utilise water, to be made more sustainable and for consumers to be more thoughtful in their purchasing habits. He asserts that lack of access to clean water ultimately pushes the marginalised and vulnerable communities towards a vicious circle of poverty.
The burden of accessing water to meet daily needs prevents them from reaching their full potential by inhibiting their education, health and livelihood opportunities.
India is currently ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index. In 2015, Indian government committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6, which promises that by 2030 everyone will have access to clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.