Water scarcity will very soon turn into modern world’s biggest nightmare if the current signs are any indicator.
The problem of drinkable water aside, water for washing clothes will become an issue having the potential to trigger a small-scale civil war.
The heat is intense and the pressure of depleting groundwater is being felt in India’s major cities. In such a scenario, Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s remark that “India’s water crisis is more serious than its energy crisis” sounds like an unvarnished truth.
A map published as part of a compilation by BofAML‘s (Bank of America Merrill Lynch) Transforming World Atlas should stir up the government and the Indian society and make them aware of the real problem that we face right now.
The map highlights 20 of the world’s major cities under severe water stress likely to face a cataclysmic situation by 2050.
The number of people facing water shortage will be 3.9 billion around the world.
Five of the cities likely to face severe water shortage in the next few decades are in India.
They are: Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad in the order of current population.
The current total population of these five cities comes to around 67.5 million. By 2050, the region coloured blue will have around 20 per cent more water. India, too, might have more water but urbanisation will increase the population in Indian cities, thereby causing a situation dubbed ‘absolute water scarcity’.
The situation can be best explained from a study conducted by BoAML. The study, done in 2014, divided water crisis in countries on three parameters: Water Stress, Water Scarcity, and Absolute Water Scarcity.
With 1519 m³/person/year, India is currently facing water stress. Kuwait is the country facing the severest form of absolute water scarcity with 6.916 m³/person/year.
In the next three decades, however, India’s situation will worsen due to its population growth rate coupled with ineffective government policies and climate change. Climate change has been cited as a critical factor.
Low groundwater levels will eventually have a negative impact on agriculture too, thereby creating a food problem. But it is irrigation that consumes most of India’s groundwater.
The current water crisis threatens to set in motion a chain reaction that will eventually lead to a national political conflict.
And we are not even talking about contaminated water sources which result in over 21 per cent of diseases in the country. Do we need to mention that 33 per cent people in India have no access to proper sanitation facilities?
Conservative estimates peg India’s population at around 1.6 billion by 2050, with over 50 per cent living in cities.
Currently there is not a single city in the country that can boast of a 24-hour water supply. There is no urban planning in sight with a focus on finding a solution to this problem.
Thankfully, India is one of the 10 countries with the highest concentration of renewable freshwater. It stands at 1911 10m³/person/year. But effective utilisation of water resources is the only way we can avoid a disaster in the making.
Conserve water. Save India.