Speaking at the inaugural celebrations of the Central Water and Power Research Station Vice President M Hamid Ansari said India’s huge population has resulted in stress on water resources and that the plight of Yamuna reflects water mismanagement.
He said the country’s “proverbial poverty” is largely related to the results from hydro-meteorological conditions, inequitable spatial distribution, and non-utilisation and ill-planned utilisation of water resources.
“Deficiency of water results in crop failure and water in excess of the capacity of stream results in flood causing widespread loss of life and property,” Ansari said, addressing the centenary celebration of Central Water and Power Research Station.
“India’s proverbial poverty amongst plenty is, to a large extent, related to results from the hydro-meteorological conditions, inequitable spatial distribution, non-utilisation and ill-planned utilisation of water resources,” he said.
Summarising the major cause of acute water crisis in the country, Ansari said, “First, India’s large population has led to a stress on available water resources. The total amount of usable water has been estimated to be between 700 to 1,200 billion cubic meters.”
“With a population of 1.2 billion, India has only 1,000 cubic meters of water per person, even using the higher estimates,” he said.
The second cause is poor quality of water resulting from inefficient and delayed investment in urban water treatment facilities, he said.
“Water in most rivers in India is largely not fit for drinking. Industrial effluent standards are not enforced for a variety of reasons,” he said.
“The plight of Yamuna, as it crosses Delhi, starkly reflects this mismanagement. For only 2 per cent of its river length that Delhi occupies, 75 per cent of its pollutants are added here,” he said.
Ansari said the third problem for water scarcity in the country is dwindling supplies due to over extraction.
“India has been extracting more ground water at an ever increasing rate. It is estimated that we extracted 251 bcm of groundwater in 2010 compared to 90 bcm in 1980,” he said.
He said in view of vital importance of water for human and animal life, for maintaining ecological balance and for economic and development activities of all kinds, and considering its increasing scarcity, the planning and management of water resource and its optimal, economical and equitable use become a matter of “utmost urgency”.
Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Uma Bharti exhorted the scientists at CWPRS to carry out innovative research in the field of water and power research and assured assistance from the Centre.
“Dams should be constructed in a such a way that ecological flow of the river does not get obstructed … this is the challenge to the scientists all over India,” she said.