Clean Ganga and water management key to India’s growth

UN water report predicts 40% global shortfall in water supply by 2030

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Puja Bhattacharjee | March 20, 2015 | New Delhi


#clean ganga   #water   #shortage   #un   #united nations  

Reviving Ganga is an important priority for the country since 45 percent of the country’s population depends on the river for livelihood and well-being, said Sanwar Lal Jat, minister of state for water resources, river development, and Ganga rejuvenation in New Delhi on Friday as he released the world water development report.

“The national water policy adopts an integrated approach to water management which is vital for poverty reduction, environmental sustenance and sustainable economic development,” he said.

The report is published by the world water assessment programme, which is hosted by UNESCO, on behalf of UN-Water. It stresses the urgent need to change the way we use and manage this vital resource, as the United Nations prepares to adopt new sustainable development goals.

The report concludes that unless there is dramatic improvement in the management of water the planet will be facing 40 percent shortfall in water supply by 2030.

UNESCO director-general, Irina Bokova pointed out that though water resources are a key element in policies to combat poverty, they are sometimes themselves threatened by development.

“There is already international consensus that water and sanitation are essential to the achievement of many sustainable development goals. They are inextricably linked to climate change, agriculture, food security, health, energy, equality, gender and education. Now, we must look forward to measurability, monitoring and implementation”, said Michel Jarraud, chair of UN-water and secretary-general of the world meteorological organisation.

The report argues that the focus be extended from drinking water and sanitation to the global management of the whole water cycle. The proposed sustainable development goals would thus take into account questions of governance, water quality, wastewater management and the prevention of natural disasters. The sustainable development goals will be finalised in the autumn of 2015 during the United Nations general assembly.

In 2000 India had nearly 19 million mechanised or tubewells, compared to less than a million in 1960. This technological revolution has played an important role in the country’s efforts to combat poverty, but the ensuing development of irrigation has, in turn, resulted in significant water stress in some regions of the country, such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

While water is essential for economic growth and the fight against poverty, it is also itself directly affected by economic development. To find a solution to this conundrum, a balance between water supply and demand is needed. Despite the considerable progress that has been made in recent years, 748 million people are still without access to an improved drinking water source. Those first affected are the poor, the disadvantaged and women.

While demand for water is expected to increase by 55 percent by 2050, nearly 20 percent of global groundwater sources are already overexploited. Intensive crop irrigation, uncontrolled release of chemicals into waters and the absence of wastewater treatment (90 percent of wastewater in developing countries) are all proof of poor management of water resources.

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