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India is facing its worst-ever water crisis, with some 600 million people facing acute water shortage, a government think-tank says.
The Niti Aayog report, which draws on data from 24 of India’s 29 states, says the crisis is “only going to get worse” in the years ahead.
Around 200,000 Indians die every year because they have no access to clean water, according to the report. And as The BBC reports, many end up relying on private water suppliers or tankers paid for the by the government. Winding queues of people waiting to collect water from tankers or public taps is a common sight in Indian slums.
Indian cities and towns regularly run out water in the summer because they lack the infrastructure to deliver piped water to every home.
600 million people face high-to-extreme water stress.
75% of households do not have drinking water on premise. 84% rural households do not have piped water access.
70% of our water is contaminated; India is currently ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index.
India faces more than one problem – all compounding the nation’s crisis:
Droughts are becoming more frequent, creating severe problems for India’s rain-dependent farmers (~53% of agriculture in India is rainfed17).
When water is available, it is likely to be contaminated (up to 70% of our water supply), resulting in nearly 200,000 deaths each year.
Interstate disagreements are on the rise, with seven major disputes currently raging, pointing to the fact that limited frameworks and institutions are in place for national water governance.
And that means massive problems lie ahead…
40% of the Indian population will have no access to drinking water by 2030 with 21 cities running out of groundwater by 2020 – affecting 100 million people which will cut 6% from GDP by 2050.
What remains alarming is that the states that are ranked the lowest – such as Uttar Pradesh and Haryana in the north or Bihar and Jharkhand in the east – are also home to nearly half of India’s population as well the bulk of its agricultural produce.
But, the report said, policymakers face a difficult situation because there is not enough data available on how households and industries use and manage water.
While trade wars are grabbing all the headlines, the water wars are where the real pain lies.