Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Water Situation in India

The amount of water available per person in India is decreasing steadily – from 3450 cm in 1951, it fell to 1250 cm in 1999. According to the Ministry of Water Resources is expected to decrease further to 760 cm per person in 2050.8 Water scarcity is the single biggest threat to food production, as falling groundwater levels and shrinking rivers make less water available for agriculture. Water is a key productive resource for growing food and raising cattle. Sustained access to water for irrigation is a question of survival for about 70% of the Indian population.This number includes disadvantaged and marginalized farmers and those surviving by subsistence farming as well as agricultural labourers. The impact of a lack of access to water has been dramatically exposed during the last years in drought-prone areas throughout the country. Basically water is required for agriculture and domestic consumption. Apart from this water is used by industries.

Agriculture accounts for almost 80 per cent of water use in India.The FAO estimates that due to population growth there is a needfor additional 60 percent more food in the next 30 years. This estimate assumes that the current water intensive agriculture is continued. Hence a review of water use in agriculture is a must; demand management both in agriculture and industry is an imperative in this regard. Ground water is the major source of irrigation in India. It fulfils almost 60 percent of the country’s total irrigation needs, in rainless areas this rate being even much higher. Over 70 per cent of the value of farm produce depends on ground water. However, excessive depletion of groundwater

reserves has led to a dramatic decrease of the groundwater
level. Moreover crops that need more water (paddy, sugar cane) are being farmed replacing the traditional products consuming less water (millet). Industry too has become a huge consumer of ground water in agricultural areas.

Diverting water from domestic and agriculture to industries poses serious problems. In most parts of India, ground water mining is taking place at twice the rate of natural recharge causing aquifers to drop by 1 to 3 meters every year. Till date, many private corporations contribute to the excessive depletion of groundwater.

No comments: