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NEW DELHI – India faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply and millions of lives and livelihoods could be at risk, said a think tank chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
By 2030, water demand is projected to be double the supply, implying severe scarcity for hundreds of millions of people. The shortage will eventually shave around 6 percent off gross domestic product, the report said.
About 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog said on Thursday, citing data by independent agencies.
“Critical groundwater resources that account for 40 percent of India’s water supply are being depleted at unsustainable rates,” the report said, calling for an immediate push towards sustainable management of water resources.
“India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat,” it said.
The think tank said it has developed a Composite Water Management Index with nine areas of assessment to help state governments manage water resources.
Droughts are becoming more frequent, creating problems for India’s rain-dependent farmers. At the same time, disputes between states are on the rise.
Interstate disagreements are on the rise, with seven major disputes currently raging, pointing to the fact that limited frameworks and institutions are in place for national water governance.
Nearly 163 million of India’s population of 1.3 billion lack access to clean water close to home, the most of any country, according to a 2018 report by Britain-based charity WaterAid.