A Report released by the Central Water Commission (CWC) in collaboration with Indian Space Research Orgainsation (ISRO) reveals a different version altogether on the water crisis situation prevailing in the country.
In a report titled “Reassessment of water available in India using space inputs; Basin Planning & Management Organisation, CWC presented a detail analysis of water availability in the country during a 30 year period starting from 1993 along with satellite data provided by ISRO.
The study was conducted and filed in 2017 but it was put in public domain only recently. The report drew interesting conclusions regarding water crisis in the country.
The report says in its conclusions that India is not a water deficit country, but due to severe neglect and lack of monitoring of water resources and development projects several regions in the country experience water stress.
However, it does not deny the fact that water availability in India is going to be a serious challenge due to various reasons. The most serious concern is the growing population which is likely to increase to 1.66 billion by 2050. With the increasing population, the annual food requirement in the country will exceed 250 million tons by 2050.
The report points out that there is a need to change the cropping patterns according to the availability of water and the food pattern across the country will prefer millets over cereals.
However, people go for water intensive commercial crops like sugarcane and cotton anticipating huge profits but which detrimentally affect the water scarce region. For instance, if farmers in water scarce Vidharbha region go for such crops it results in severe water shortage. As most of the farming in the vidharbha region is rain-fed, it may even result in crop loss due to insufficient rainfall.
This in return disturbs the agrarian economy leaving farmers in distress. This means the water scarcity is partly a consequence of faulty government policies which incentivize crops uniformly across the country irrespective of the water availability.
The report presents a roadmap of potential water availability and solution options and means of implementation that can be adopted to foster progress in improving water management and effective utilization.
It says the government must invest in proper assessment of water resources and collecting accurate hydrological data separately for each river basin and catchment area. The report raises a warning bell saying any further delay in the water sector will lead to water scarcity in future.