21 Indian Cities Projected to Run Out of Groundwater by 2020, Report Says

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By Pam Wright

At a Glance

  • Nearly 600 million people face high to extreme water stress in the country.
  • Seventy-five percent of all households do not have water on the premises.
  • Seventy percent of all the water in the country is contaminated.
  • And it’s only going to get worse, a government-sponsored think tank says.

At least 21 cities in India are facing a potentially catastrophic water crisis within the next two years as groundwater is depleted, and the resulting shortages could affect more than 100 million people, a recent report says.

The water situation in India is already dire, with nearly 600 million people facing high to extreme water stress in the country, according to the 180-page report by the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), a government-sponsored think tank. Seventy-five percent of all households are without water on the premises and 70 percent of the water in the country is contaminated, the report also said.

If that’s not bad enough, 21 Indian cities, including the capital of Delhi, are expected to run out of groundwater within two years.

“Critical groundwater resources that account for 40 percent of India’s water supply are being depleted at unsustainable rates,” the NITI Aayog analysis said in the report.

Amitabh Kant, chief executive of NITI Aayog, noted that the depletion of the groundwater in Delhi doesn’t mean the city of 29 million will be completely out of water by 2020 because it can draw water from neighboring states. He does stress, however, that the country needs to address the water situation immediately.

“Delhi is currently pulling too much water out of the ground and we are not putting back a sufficient amount,” Kant told BBC.com.

The report said deficient rainfall and the onset of early and extended summers, all linked to climate change, can be blamed for the groundwater depletion. Rising populations across India and the resulting increase in the demand for water is also to blame, the report said.

Delhi is projected to become the world’s most populous city by 2028, according to a recent United Nations report. With the ever-growing population, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply by 2030, the report also said.

Researchers for the report looked at how 24 of the country’s 29 states are managing their water supply and created the Composite Water Management Index.

Kant said the index was made public with the intention of shedding some light on the situation and hopes it will “help establish a sense of competitiveness across states to improve their performance in water management” and force state administrators to take action to protect the country’s most precious resource.

“This report is about naming and shaming,” Kant told BBC.com. “These are states to which 50 percent of the population and agriculture basket belongs, and therefore, if they do not do well, food security is at risk for the whole of India.”

Source: The Weather Channel

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