water-security

CONTEXT 

The alarming rate of groundwater depletion has been a problem in the Capital for years due to population growth and high urbanisation. In 2021, a Central Groundwater Board report stated Delhi’s groundwater levels were declining at the rate of 0.5 to 2 metres each year and that 825 sq km of Delhi’s total area of 1,483 sq km is suitable for artificial recharge of the groundwater table.

WATER SECURITY

What is water security?

According to UN-Water, water security can be defined as the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water-related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability.

  • With population growth over the years and increasing demand for water today India is facing challenges in the water sector.
  • Rising population: Water scarcity is already visible with the current population size of 1.3 billion which is projected to be increased to 1.6 billion by 2050.
    • Along with this, with rising population levels and climate change, the water cycle is expected to undergo significant change all across the world.
    • India consists of 16% of the world's population but with only 4% of the world's water resources.
  • Total availability: The total annual water available from precipitation in India is about 4000 cubic km. Surface water and replenishable groundwater contribute 1869 cubic km but only 60% of this can be put to beneficial uses.
  • The 2018 Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) 2.0, a pan India set of metrics that measures different dimensions of water management and use across the life cycle of water report by the NITI Aayog in association with the Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Ministry of rural development, indicated that 21 major cities including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and others are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for over 100million people
    • The report also indicated that by 2030 the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people which would lead to a 6% loss in India’s GDP.
  • It is believed that water will also be a major source of geopolitical conflict in the century. It is therefore critical to manage this natural resource well.
  • We need to have a sharp focus on tackling the water crisis of the country. Water security is of paramount importance to ensure reliable access and sustainable availability of clean water in adequate quantities to the entire population.

STEPS TAKEN BY GOVERNMENT 

  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Jal Shakti Abhiyan, a campaign for water conservation and water security was launched in 2019 to make water conservation ‘ a jan Andolan’ that is people’s movement through asset creation and extensive communication. The focus is on water stress blocks in districts of India to ensure five important intervention areas:
    • Water conservation and rainwater harvesting
    • Renovation of traditional and other water bodies or tanks
    • Reuse of water and recharging of structures
    • Watershed development
    • Intensive afforestation
  • Jal Jeevan Mission: Government launched Jal Jeevan mission in 2019 to provide functional household tap connection at the rate of 55 L per capita per day to every rural household that is ‘har ghar nal se jal’ by 2024.
  • Atal Bhujal Yojana: It is a groundwater management scheme, launched for the purpose of improving groundwater management in seven states of India to be implemented over five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25.
  • Draft national water framework Bill, 2016: The draft contains the provisions for an overarching national legal framework with principles for protection, conservation, regulation and management of water as a vital and stressed natural resource as suggested by Mihir Shah committee.
  • Updation of national water policy: Government is planning to update the 2012 version of national water policy and set up a national Bureau of water use efficiency to bring a paradigm shift in water management.
  • Nationwide campaign named ‘Nisarg Raksha’: The campaign was launched for environmental conservation and water rejuvenation, the whole movement is a People’s movement and is driven by the people. The aim is to train around 1 million Nisarg Rakshaks- 1 volunteer for every village in the country to carry out various activities towards environmental conservation and water rejuvenation at local level.

WAY FORWARD

  • Good water governance: Sustainable access to adequate quantity and quality of water should be there to each individual. A wider perspective and holistic approach are required to conserve water in every possible manner. Integrating water resource management measures are required to minimize water scarcity risks.
  • 9R principles: We should move towards a more sustainable approach to conserve water like 9’R principles (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover, Recharge, Rethink, Reroute, Repurpose and Rejuvenate).
  • Steps at various levels: An individual citizen should take every possible step to conserve water, which is a precious natural resource.
    • Households:The household should install water-saving devices like dual flushing in toilets, dishwashers in the canteens. Sewage Treated water should be utilized for gardening in the parks.
    • Schools, colleges: Rainwater harvesting structures should be installed in the government schools, offices, colleges, buildings and parks so that freshwater demands can be significantly reduced and the disparity between the water demand and supply too.
    • Industries: the industries should try for maximum recycling and reuse of the wastewater and should go for the “Zero Liquid discharge” concept.

It is high time to realise water’s true and multidimensional value to survive the future and for building a sustainable world. India has overcome many challenges and is working towards ensuring water security and strengthening water sector governance, thereby moving towards achieving the SDG 6.

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