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The Water Footprints Of India

With the urbanisation and industrial development, the usage of water is likely to increase in the coming years. Thankfully, India has now started shifting its attention to irrigation techniques that utilizes water to the full capacity

Photo Credit : pixabay.com

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India has increased its forest land mass and spending a huge amount to construct reservoirs in rural areas. Foundations like MSSRF are also trying to make ocean water useable for agrarian purposes. For the sake of better future, India needs every single citizen to come forward for the cause of water.

The everyday growing population can be considered as the major cause of water scarcity in nations like India. It is also blamed that agriculture has a very high water footprint in developing nations like India. For instance, it is believed that developing countries are using comparatively less water for agriculture and more for industrial and domestic purposes, while the developing countries in Asia and Africa use 80-90 per cent of the water for agriculture (leaving high water foot print) and only 5-12 per cent of the water for industrial use. This is reflecting on the inefficient use of water in agriculture and poor investments in industrial development.

India’s Water Uses:

With the urbanisation and industrial development, the usage of water is likely to increase in the coming years. Thankfully, India has now started shifting its attention to irrigation techniques that utilizes water to the full capacity. India’s recent collaboration with countries like Israel for drip irrigation system can be termed as a concrete step towards water saving technology. It is suitable for areas where normal rainfall is very low and it can also be used to reduce water wastage during irrigation, says Rashid one of the project supervisors heading a citrus fruit farm unit in Rajasthan (established with the cooperation from Israel’s agency MASHAV).      

Among various continents, Asia has 36 per cent of the available freshwater reserves, with over 60 per cent of the world population where water is a scarce commodity. Compared to Asia, Africa is in a better situation, where 13 per cent of the population has access to 11 per cent of the fresh water reserves. Australia and Oceana have plenty of water with one per cent population owning 5 per cent of the fresh water reserves, followed by North and Central America, with 8 per cent population and 15 per cent water reserves and South America with 6 per cent global population and 26 per cent freshwater reserves (Source: baif research foundation). Since generations, the pattern of water use in different countries is mostly dependent on their culture, lifestyle and industrial development, as the availability of water was not a serious concern.

The Agrarian Uses & Way Forward

In spite of good rainfall distribution in last few years (besides poor rainfall in two consecutive years in 2013-14 and 2014-15), the country is struggling to make good use of rainwater, lack of awareness has been considered as a big reason. In the union budget 2017-18, the government had seriously pumped in some Rs 48, 000 crore in MGNREGA where most of the fund was used to build reservoirs at the village level. But infrastructure to construct dams and reservoirs has a long distance to cover. As a result, only about 35-40 per cent of the cropping area receives irrigation to take 1-2 crops in a year. Groups, for instance MS Swaminathan Research Foundation are already working on the process to use ocean water for agriculture uses. In fact Swaminathan says, "though we have a huge area covered under irrigation, but we must adopt or even make rainwater harvesting mandatory."

Rising population, rising per capita income and lack of social interest for sensitive issues like water wastage will continue to pose challenges in front of nations like India. Though India is among very nations where forest mass has increased in past few years but over-exploitation of groundwater needs every single citizen to come forward and save the future of water. As the father of green revolution MS Swaminathan appeals, “Given the importance of water to human security, every nation should have a ‘national water security policy’ with community participation. India should have water security policy that consists, Ground water, Surface water, Sea water, Rain Water and Recycled water.” 


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