Preserving water resources for the sustainable growth of India complements the noble vision of doubling farmer incomes by 2022.
Over the past few months, concern and awareness about water resources have reached an unprecedented high. The conversations about water resources now are not confined to the privileged discussions in air-conditioned rooms of New Delhi’s policy circles. It has now become part of everyday discussions in offices, households and markets. Two successive events have led to such a watershed change in discussion on water resources.
First, the news came in that Shimla is running out of water and was forced to turn away tourists that drive the city’s economy during summer. The development bore an unfortunate resemblance to Rango—an animation movie showing desperation of villagers on the brink of depleted water resources. The unfortunate event gave the country an early glimpse of what may happen if we continue to recklessly waste water.
Second, NITI Aayog released the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) in June. The CWMI is a pioneering exercise that seeks to identify, target and improve key water resources-related indicators. This index highlighted the current plight, showing how low-performing states house approximately 50% of India’s population, and how 21 major cities may run out of ground water by 2021. The index has a set of 28 key performance indicators (KPIs) covering irrigation status, drinking water and other water-related sectors. Critical areas such as source augmentation, major and medium irrigation, watershed development, participatory irrigation practices, sustainable on-farm water use practices, rural drinking water, urban water supply and sanitation, and policy and governance have been accorded high priority. By changing the public discourse, the index has begun to achieve its purpose.
The next goal, however, is to identify a set of realistic, actionable and specific policies which states can adopt to move ahead on water conservation, which will also be indicated in their ranking on the CWMI. According to the report of the National Commission on Integrated Water Resources Development, the projected demand for water by 2050 is likely to reach 1,180 billion cubic metres (BCM), which will outstrip the availability of 1,137 BCM.....Read more
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