World Water Day’16 - Experts warn India
India's agriculture, industry and power generation are being affected, and people are unable to gain access to water due to the water crisis. Experts stated that measures to recharge the groundwater must be prioritized, and water rationing norms must be implemented to survive the crisis. Union Water Resources Ministry had undertaken a program to map all the aquifers by 2022 to ensure sustainable extraction.
The 'World Water Day', celebrated on March 22 every year, highlights the importance of freshwater and supports the sustainable management of freshwater resources. It was first proposed in Agenda 21 of the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It was first celebrated in 1993 and highlights and focuses on a difference global issue theme every year.
On this day, the UN and its members promote activities related to world's water resources, implement UN's proposals regarding the same. Additionally, in developing nations, the day also highlights the need to make WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) accessible.
The theme for 2016 is 'Better water, better jobs', which aims to emphasize the jobs created by water, and which contribute to sustainable development. About half of the world's workers are placed in sectors related to water but, don't have access to safe water leading to severe problems. According to UN, one child dies in every two minutes due to lack of water.
One in every ten people doesn't have access to safe water which leads to premature death due to infectious diseases. Inaccessibility to water and unhygienic conditions kills around 900 children, in a day, across the globe.
According to a recent report of the Central Water Commission, the water levels of 91 important reservoirs are at their lowest in a decade. On the 'World Water Day', the reservoirs contain only 71% of the last year's level and 74% of the last decade's average water level. The reservoirs contain only 157.8 billion cubic meters of water whereas, their total capacity is 250BCM.
CWC stated that the water level in South Indian reservoirs is only at 20% of the total capacity, whereas the last decade's average level is 38.5%. The Krishna, Indus, Tapti, Mahi, Cauvery and Godavari basins are the worst hit.
Conflict over water usage for agriculture, domestic use and industries/manufacturing is arising due to the water crisis. Several villages in Maharashtra are facing severe drought where water is supplied once in three weeks, and the local authorities imposed restrictions fearing violence. Competition between agriculture and industry for water is affecting the nation adversely, especially in power generation. Some state-governments recommended restricting domestic water supply.
A WaterAid report had stated that there were more people in India without access to drinking water when compared to under-developed African countries like Ethiopia, Nigeria and Congo. About 1.4 million children in India die due to diarrhea.