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It Is Important To Manage Water Effectively To Grow At High Rates: Amitabh Kant

"With 700 million going to get into urbanization, 17% of the world's population, with just 4% of the water resources, India faces a major challenge when it comes to water management", said Kant, adding that, "84% our water goes into irrigation"

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In a session called "Water-Secure India" at the India Economic Summit 2017 organized by the World Economic Forum and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), issues related to how India can harness emerging innovations to rethink approaches to water, sanitation and hygiene challenges were discussed, with Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog moderating. Dimensions which were addressed included managing water risks in the supply chain, improving trans-boundary water management and scaling urban water and sanitation.

"With 700 million going to get into urbanization, 17% of the world's population, with just 4% of the water resources, India faces a major challenge when it comes to water management", said Kant, adding that, "84% our water goes into irrigation". Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director, HCC Ltd said "Every individual on an average needs about 10,000 liters of water, out of which 7500 liters of water in what we eat, 2000 in manufactured products, and the rest for drinking and sanitation", speaking about the direct and indirect water footprint of an urban consumer. Commending Israel's work in water management, he said "Only Israel uses water efficiently. Our real problem is going to lie how we are going to reduce water consumption at our agricultural end. Why not look at what Israel is done, which is precision agriculture. If we can slightly tweak our policies to encourage precision agriculture, we might lead to more awareness and more education".

"How do we get more productivity per unit of water?", asked Kant, to which Susmita Mohanty, Chief Executive Officer, Earth2Orbit Consulting Private Limited said, "Looking from space, Indus river basin is one of the most depleted aquifers. Netherlands is a fantastic example when it comes to increase yield. One of the most compact nations. They have perfected green-house technology. Greenhouse technology is climate agnostic. We should not limit precision agriculture to drip irrigation, but also hydroponics, how to minimize the use of soil and other materials". Speaking about how technology is available and it just has to be transfused to every person, she said "Technology is available for recharging water. There have been innovations to reduce consumption of water, like sensors which use IoT to track how much water is being used."

Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, said, "Swachh Bharat is one of the biggest behavioural changing campaigns in the world. Water is a security issue. You can look at it from a resource management perspective, and the other from service delivery perspective. If you look at it from a policy point of view, every ODF village will be given priority for a pipeline". He also added "Reduce, reuse and recycle is applicable in water and sanitation. World Bank did a study which said that lack of sanitation is causing 6% of GDP to reduce. Each household will save Rs 50,000 by having a toilet. There is an economic value to sanitation". Commending NITI Aayog's efforts in developing a Water Management Index, Iyer added, "You have to give credit to Amitabh for developing a Water Management Index. It's a healthy competition". "If you provide good service, people are willing to pay", said Iyer, with respect to the dynamic pricing of water. "86% of water is recycled in Israel. We need to have integration at the institutional level in the centre and the states, it's very disjointed right now. Ministry of Rural Development is doing a lot of work in reviving water bodies. It's all about incentives", added Iyer.

"I feel a lot of work done by state governments is a command area sort of work, which is big projects and infrastructures, but somehow it never reaches the farmer", said Kant. Amarjit Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources of India, said ""We are trying to have a national aquifer mapping programs. That's the idea, you do a mapping of the underground water, let the communities make decisions on how the water is to be managed". He also added, "We have to make sure that energy supplied for water is metered and charged. There is absolutely a case of separating power feeders from the water supply. NITI Aayog has made it mandatory that there is satellite mapping done of command area to see actually where the water is reaching". With respect to the North Eastern states, Singh added, "There is so much water available, but lack of enterprise, electricity not being available. So they are unable to draw water".

"Water is the most critical resource. It's important that if we have to grow at high rates, we have to manage water effectively, restore and rejuvenate water, protect water bodies, price water correctly, diffuse technology to everyone", concluded Kant to end an extremely engaging session. "We will do Water Management Index for local bodies and panchayats too, other than just for states", added Kant.


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