Q: India is well endowed with fresh water resources. Critically examine why it still suffers from water scarcity.
India is not an inherently water-short country. Its average total annual rainfall which is higher than the world average of 990 mm should normally suffice to meet the country’s critical needs. India has enough fresh water to meet its needs but the problem is the unequal distribution and sporadic nature of monsoon. The causes of water scarcity can be discussed as:
a) Unequal water distribution as most of the rainfall that is received in India is distributed over a specific time and area. The level of water table rises during rainfall months but then decreases when there is no rainfall.
b) Overpopulated cities, which create pressure on natural resources add to the problem of water scarcity.
c) Due to inefficient irrigation techniques and small land holdings for agriculture, over-exploitation of groundwater is in practice. This has lowered the water table, leading to conflict between the demands from industry, agriculture and domestic sector.
d) Lack of recycling capacity for used water and low emphasis on water treatment and reuse along with dumping of municipal and industrial waste in water bodies has led to reduction in input to water sources.
e) Low awareness about rain water harvesting, water usage efficiency coupled with increasing purchasing power of people has increased demand leading to magnification of the problem.
f) Increasing Geogenic groundwater pollution as well as increasing river pollution limits utilizable water in the country.
g) Climate change increases incidences of droughts and reduce annual precipitation in drought prone central and North West India.
To meet the problem of water scarcity it is necessary to use water resources in a planned and comprehensive way.