Why Delhi may face tomorrow what Cape Town faces today
This is only slightly better than the annual per capita renewable freshwater availability of 800 cubic metres in South Africa and way below the 2,000 cubic metres in China.
Renewable internal freshwater resources refer to internal river flows and groundwater from rainfall in the country, and exclude inflows from upstream countries (groundwater and surface water).
For instance, Punjab has the highest share of rice procurement in the country despite not being the most efficient state in producing rice in terms of water usage.
Thus, India tends to use more water than other major agricultural countries for growing crops.
In the most water-stressed states of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, annual groundwater consumption is more than annual groundwater recharge.
While India is blessed with major rivers, there is a sharp regional skew in the availability of surface water.
The sharing of river water has become a political battleground in the south, as seen in the battle over Cauvery waters between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
About 60% of India’s districts face the problem of groundwater contamination or scarcity or both.
Despite progress, India still lags its peers in reducing deaths from water-borne diseases like diarrhoea.
Unless steps are taken to reverse the depletion and contamination of India’s water resources, India’s cities and villages may face a fate worse than Cape Town in the coming years.