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  • India Grand Challenges 10): Understanding national climate patterns and adapting to them.
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 World Water Day: Water Crisis And Water Conservation 

Date of Publish - Wednesday, 14th March 2018

This year, for the first time ever, the spirit of the ancient Indian festival of colours was dampened by concerns over the water crisis. In Gujarat, the two biggest municipal corporations, Ahmedabad and Surat urged people not to waste water on Holi and according to reports; many planned celebrations were cancelled by various clubs, social groups and residential societies.

In January, the world was shocked to hear of the predicament of Cape Town, when government officials declared that the taps “will be turned off” on April 22, 2018, because there will be no more water to deliver. The legislative capital of South Africa, and it’s second most populous city, is in the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water. Many reports say that Bangalore, once the ‘Garden City’ of India, is among the top 10 world cities in imminent danger of running out of fresh water supplies.

Water is vital for life on earth, but fresh water is increasingly becoming scarce. Unsafe water and poor sanitation is the world's second biggest killer of children mostly in developing countries where half the population do not have access to safe drinking water.

According to a 2016 Water Aid report, about six percent of India’s population don’t have access to clean water. The report added that while aquifers provide 85 percent of drinking water, their levels are falling in 56 percent of the country. We have abundant rainfall to recharge these aquifers and the potential to solve the fresh water crisis, yet, only a fraction of the rainwater is harvested.

The Central Water Commission has reported that over the past five decades, availability of fresh water has dropped from 3,000 cubic metres to 1,123 cubic metres today. At present about 1,123 billion cubic metres of fresh water is available in India of which 84 per cent is used in agriculture.

Although India is not a water poor country, rapid population growth, urbanization, neglect and overexploitation has led to safe water a scarce commodity. India faces a severe groundwater crisis and 16.6 million acres of land have been lost to salinization. In Tamil Nadu, 95% of wells supplying small farmers have dried up. In North Gujarat, water tables are falling 20 feet per year.

At 76 million, India has the largest number of people living without access to safe water in the world, and experts warn of a looming crisis as over 73 per cent of the country’s aquifers are being overdrawn. Small rivers and streams which used to be sources of clean water are drying up, while the large rivers are facing the menace of pollution. Thousands of farmers have committed suicide in the water-stressed regions. Some experts say that by 2050, India will be water-scarce.

The water crisis is poised to escalate due to climate change impacts. One study last year declared that millions of people across Asia, who were dependent on rivers fed by the Himalayan glaciers for fresh water, farming and hydro-electricity, are likely to be affected by the accelerated melting of glaciers.

Change in rainfall patterns also affects biodiversity in several ways, including availability of fodder, predator-prey interactions, breeding and migratory cycles, etc. Lack of adequate water could be a primary cause of wildlife straying from protected habitats and driver of increased man-animal conflicts.

Walk for Water is a civil society group comprising of passionate people committed to the cause of providing universal safe water access. Aware that nearly half of all supplied water in India is lost due to leakage, we are determined to build up a mass movement that will not only focus on increasing awareness and minimizing wastage but also promote rainwater harvesting and the purification of recycled and contaminated water to make safe water accessible to all.

We believe that a public appeal from you will inspire water conservation action amongst your numerous followers. Therefore, we request you to issue a Press Release focusing on the water crisis with an appeal for judicious use of water. Walk for Water is committed to organize a massive multimedia campaign to place India at the centre of a global ‘Blue Revolution.’ Thank you for your support.

Author :
Rituraj Phukan


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