The escalating impacts of climate change and poor water management are only pushing us in deep quagmire. Most cities lose between a third and a fifth of their water from pilferage or leakage through antiquated pipes, and we don’t treat and reuse wastewater enough. The Niti Aayog report gave water shortage situation saying by 2020 major 21 Indian cities would face the worst water shortage. Dry Shimla, with serpentine queues of its residents crying for every drop of water; farmers unsustainably pumping deeper from the depleted groundwater table in Punjab; the huge plans to clean polluted rivers coming a cropper are just some images from the trailer of the doleful picture in store for us. The stress will deepen as the demand – a function of population growth and economic development – is expected to double than the available supply in just around 10 years. Compounding the problem is the fact that 70 per cent of the precious resource is contaminated. Ranked 120 out of 122, we make the tail-end of the countries in water quality index. The report is yet again a grim reminder of how wantonly the natural resources are being exploited. With 50 per cent of the population already facing high-to-extreme water scarcity and about two lakh people dying every year due to water-related problems, ringing the alarm bells alone is not sufficient. Water management – by employing technology and policy intervention – holds the key to water security. The United Nations World Water Development Report 2018 lays emphasis on nature-based solutions to address the challenges. To naturally replenish the rivers and aquifers, a judicious use of water is essential. For that, there is need to push for public awareness regarding the importance of rainwater harvesting, treatment and reuse of waste water, an efficient irrigation system, and regulation of tubewells, as also prevention of pilferage or leakage through antiquated pipes in our cities. Water woes easily turn into disputes and social strife over water in the long run has the potential of disrupting any treaty and leading to a war.
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