India’s growing agricultural water scarcity

by Dave

John Briscoe, professor of the practice of environmental health at Harvard School of Public Health, has spent 35 years in the World Bank studying water-related disputes around the world. He points out that large agricultural areas and most cities in the subcontinent depend heavily on groundwater, which is going down at an alarming rate. In India, the affected areas such as Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are critical for food production.

Pakistan faces similar daunting problems. The Indus is likely to be much more seriously affected by climate change than any other river system in South Asia. Briscoe is convinced that unless there are major reforms in the way it is managed, water is likely to become a major constraint for economic growth and human wellbeing.

Indian policy makers acknowledge that the situation is grim. India is already below the water stress level, which requires availability of 1,700 cubic metres of water per person. Water resources secretary U.N. Panjiar says, “after best efforts to improve water use efficiency are undertaken, India is projected to have just 1,100 cubic metres per capita  by 2050,”