There’s a looming water crisis facing the country, and it comes down to how the states are faring in water resource management.
India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat.
According to World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory, currently 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water.
As per the report of the National Commission for Integrated Water Resource Development, which falls under the ministry of water resources, the water requirement by 2050 in high use scenarios is likely to be a milder 1,180 billion cubic meters, whereas the present-day availability is 695 bcm.
In the face of this growing crisis, the National Institute of Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has developed the composite water management index (CWMI) to enable effective water management in Indian states. The index establishes a clear baseline and benchmark for state-level performance on key water indicators, explain how states have progressed on water issues over time and identify areas for deeper engagement and investment on the part of the states.
The above map shows the state-level performance on water resource management during the financial year 2016-17. Gujarat is the highest performer, closely followed by other high performers such as Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
Seven states have scores between ~50-65 and have been classified as medium performers. Alarmingly, ~60% of states (14 out of 24) have achieved scores below 50 and have been classified as low performers. Low performers are concentrated across the populous agricultural belts of north and east India, and among the North-Eastern and Himalayan states.
The map above shows the change in the performance score on water resource management index from FY 2015-16 to FY 2016-17. Rajasthan, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura, Jharkhand, Haryana, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are the eight states which gained 5 or more points from 2015-16 to 2016 to 17.
States like Odisha and Uttarakhand are among states whose scores have highly decreased.
In order to increase the score of the water management index, significant improvements are required in key areas like:
- Restoration of water bodies
- 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
Photograph: Ajay Verma/Reuters.