India's water crisis 'very scary'; more intensive methods of irrigation needed says K Kasturirangan, ex ISRO chairman

Eminent scientist K Kasturirangan said agriculture's share in India's total water usage needs to be brought down to below 50 percent, and efforts should be made to preserve and manage even a single drop.

Press Trust of India June 21, 2018 19:06:07 IST
India's water crisis 'very scary'; more intensive methods of irrigation needed says K Kasturirangan, ex ISRO chairman

Hyderabad: Eminent scientist K Kasturirangan said agriculture's share in India's total water usage needs to be brought down to below 50 percent, and efforts should be made to preserve and manage even a single drop.

The NITI Aayog stated in a report last week that India is suffering from 'the worst water crisis' in its history, with about 60 crore people facing high to extreme water stress, and about two lakh people dying every year due to inadequate access to safe water.

Indias water crisis very scary more intensive methods of irrigation needed says K Kasturirangan ex ISRO chairman

File image of K Kasturirangan. ISRO website

"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 six percent loss in the country's GDP," the report noted.

Citing data from independent agencies, the report pointed out that with nearly 70 percent of water being contaminated, India is placed at 120th amongst 122 countries in the water quality index.

Kasturirangan, a former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said there are countries where agriculture accounts for about 40-50 percent of the total water usage.

"India needs to have an agriculture regime where water requirement comes down from the current 80 to 85 percent to something like 50 percent or less," he said, calling for much more intensive methods of irrigation.

"We need to make sure water bodies in the country are rejuvenated properly," said Kasturirangan, who served as a member of the erstwhile Planning Commission.

He called for a halt to “indiscriminate exploitation” of groundwater.

There is "very, very large" depletion of groundwater in northern parts of India, if American satellites are to be believed, Kasturirangan said.

"What has happened to Punjab and many other states in the process; the economy has collapsed, that portends the shape of things to come if we are not careful about how we are going to use groundwater," he said.

Asked whether India's water crisis is a "scary situation," he said, "We have to work with the concept that it's a scary situation, otherwise the situation will never be taken seriously. It's a scary situation created by us by our actions," Kasturirangan said.

He highlighted that every drop of water has to be saved, properly preserved, and managed.

"We have to develop that culture in India. We have been very profligate in the use of water because monsoon has been generous. This country has faced good monsoons over years, but we cannot take good monsoon for granted, especially in the coming years,” Kasturirangan cautioned.

He also said Karnataka is in the process of forming a policy for water management under a committee headed by Mihir Shah, an expert in the field.

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