India is suffering from “the worst water crisis” in its history, with about 60 crore people facing high to extreme water stress and about 2 lakh people dying every year due to inadequate access to safe water, the Niti Aayog said in a report on Thursday.
The report, titled ‘Composite Water Management Index’ (CWMI), released by Minister for Water Resources Nitin Gadkari, further said the crisis is only going to get worse. “By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual 6 per cent loss in the country’s GDP,” the report noted.
Citing data by independent agencies, the report pointed out that with nearly 70 per cent of water being contaminated, India is placed at 120th among 122 countries in the water quality index.
“Currently, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water,” Niti Aayog said in the report. It stressed that there is an imminent need to deepen understanding of water resources and usage.
Gujarat was ranked number one in efficient management of water resources in the CWMI report for reference year 2016-17. In the index, Gujarat is followed by Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
As per the report, in the Northeastern and Himalayan states, Tripura was ranked as the top state followed by Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam.
The government claimed that the CWMI is an important tool to assess and improve the performance of states/ Union territories in efficient management of water resources.
CWMI has been developed by NITI Aayog comprising nine broad sectors with 28 indicators covering various aspects of ground water, restoration of water bodies, irrigation, farm practices, drinking water, policy and governance. For the purposes of analysis, the reporting states were divided into two groups — ‘North Eastern and Himalayan states’ and ‘Other States’ — to account for the different hydrological conditions.
According to the report, Jharkhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are the worst performing states in water management.
Gadkari said that water management is a big problem and the states that have done well have also performed better in the agriculture sector. He said that to deal with the problem of air pollution and water management in Delhi, he would call a meeting with the Delhi Chief Minister.