Model Question and Answers for APSC | Give an estimate of the magnitude of the water crisis in India. Is the river linking the solution to the problem? Give reasons. (APSC-2016)

Model Question and Answers for APSC | Give an estimate of the magnitude of the water crisis in India. Is the river linking the solution to the problem? Give reasons. (APSC-2016)

Ans : India is the largest extractor of groundwater in the world. We extract more groundwater than the USA and China put together. Not only does this lead to debilitating water scarcity issues—nearly three-fourth of India’s rural households do not have access to piped and portable water—but it also causes an increase in contaminants like arsenic and fluoride in drinking water, putting 10 million and 66 million Indians respectively at threat for severe infection.
The magnitude of the water crisis in India
1. India is projected to face severe water stress by 2050
2. As of 2019, only 17 percent of the 191 million rural households in India had access to tap water connection
3. According to the Central Groundwater Board report (2017), close to 40 percent of the 700 districts in India have reported ‘critical’ or ‘overexploited’ groundwater levels
4. As per a recent NITI Aayog report approximately 49 percent of India’s rural population had access to safely-managed water in 2015, resulting in about two lakh annual deaths

River linking solution: Benefits
1. Surely it will improve water availability in deficient regions, like Bundelkhand region will benefit from Ken-Betwa link
2. Linking of surplus basin to deficient one’s will improve watershed management in these regions
However
1. It will not address unsustainable practises in agriculture or pollution by industries
2. River linking will only address supply side problems while real challenge for India lies in Demand management particularly sustainable usage of water resources

Other measures needed:

1. Sustainable water efficient agricultural practises
2. Promotion of reuse recycle reduce philosophy in all sectors
3. Reduction of water pollution at all levels
4. Local Community members need to understand the pros and cons of water management
5. First mile workers, who have been trained in water security, need to be embedded in large government schemes