India faces ‘worst’ water crisis in history: NITI Aayog report

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India is facing its worst water crisis in history and 600 million nationals face high to extreme water stress and about 2 lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to potable water, NITI Aayog report said on June 14.

The report also revealed that demand for potable water will exceed supply by 2030 if appropriate steps are not taken.

The report, titled ‘Composite Water Management Index’ released by Minister for Water Resources Nitin Gadkari, further said twenty-one cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, are expected to run out of groundwater as soon as 2020, which will affect nearly 100 million people of the country.

According to NITI Aayog’s Composite Water Management score states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are effectively managing their water resources whereas Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar and Nagaland scored least in the index. The low performing states account for 20-30 per cent of India’s agricultural output.

The report is based on indicators like ground water, restoration, irrigation management, drinking water supply, on-farm water use, water policy frameworks etc.

According to the report about 60% of the states were marked as “low performers” and this is a matter of grave concern. Report further states given the combination of rapidly declining groundwater levels and limited policy action this will likely to bring a significant food security risk for the nation.

In the northeastern and Himalayan states, Tripura tops the list in 2016-17 followed by Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam.

 “While Jharkhand and Rajasthan may have scored low, they have made remarkable improvement when compared over two years,” said Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog.

There is great awareness now about air pollution, however, India’s water crisis does not get that kind of attention,” said Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog.