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India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history

March 27, 2019 09:00 IST

A report said that India accounts for almost one-fourth of the total groundwater extracted globally, more than that of China and US combined thus using the largest amount of groundwater, around 24 per cent of the global total.

India tops the list of countries with the most number of people living with water scarcity during at least one part of the year, and is facing the worst water crisis in its history, said a new report by global non-profit organisation WaterAid.

“With one billion people living in water scarcity during at least one part of the year and around 600 million living in areas of high to extreme water stress, India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history,” said the report, titled “Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019”.

 

The report also said India’s national water footprint, or litres per person per day, stands at 3,000 litres, making it one of the highest in the world.

The highest water footprint is that of the United States, at 7,800 litres per person per day.

These numbers include what the report describes as ‘virtual water’, which is the water included in the production of everything people eat/drink, buy and wear.

In India’s context, the WaterAid report stated that export of food and clothing items, while important sources of income, exacerbate the problem of water crisis in India and if production is not made sustainable, it will make it harder for many poor and marginalised communities to get access to clean water supply.

The report said that India accounts for almost one-fourth of the total groundwater extracted globally, more than that of China and US combined thus using the largest amount of groundwater, around 24 per cent of the global total.

“Wheat accounts for 22 per cent of groundwater depletion.

"It has a global average water footprint of 1,827 litres per kilogramme, although this varies by region.

"In India, it has an average water footprint of 1,654 litres per kilogramme, which can vary depending on geography and climate,” the report said.

“Rice accounts for 40 per cent of all global irrigation, and 17 per cent of global groundwater depletion, with an average water footprint of 2,500 litres of water per kilogramme.

"In India, it has an average water footprint of 2,800 litres per kilogramme,” the WaterAid report pointed out.

India’s rate of groundwater depletion has increased by 23 per cent between 2000 and 2010 and it was also the third largest exporter of groundwater, accounting for 12 per cent of the global total.

“There is a dire need to make investments in making clean water within the household accessible to everyone, everywhere.

"India’s success in providing its citizens with access to clean water will significantly impact the success of global goals that the government has committed to,” said V K Madhavan, the chief executive of WaterAid India.

Photograph: Ajay Verma/Reuters

Arup Roychoudhury in New Delhi
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