At Independence, only 6% of rural India had access to safe drinking water. That figure has gone up to 82%. The per capita availability of renewable freshwater in the country, however, has fallen drastically over the last 50 years. The water table is rapidly falling with unregulated over-exploitation of groundwater. By 2025, water scarcity in India will be acute. And big dams, mega river-linking projects or privatised water distribution may not help
The draft National Water Policy 2012 recommended that water other than that required for drinking and sanitation, be treated as an economic good. Subsequent revisions have ensured that the water requirements for food security and agriculture are also considered primary
Demand for water from the domestic sector is expected to rise from 25 billion m3 to 52 billion m3 over the next 20 years. However, water consumption in the industrial sector is rising at 4.2% per year, and will shoot from 67 billion m3 to 228 billion m3 by 2025. State governments such as Orissa’s, which are signing MoU after MoU with industry, citing a surplus water situation in their state, need to think of the consequences of this industrial overdrive on availability of water in the future
In March 2007, a Public Accounts Committee came down heavily on the Chhattisgarh government for allowing a private company to appropriate the waters of the Sheonath river. Nevertheless, business continues as usual. In fact, more corporate houses have been given easy access to river waters in the state at the cost of the drinking water and irrigation needs of local communities
When Punjab exported 18 million tonnes of surplus wheat and rice in 2003-04, it actually exported 55.5 trillion litres of water as well. The focus on exports and the shift to cash crop cultivation will come at a huge social and environmental cost as India's water crisis worsens
While overall access to water supply infrastructure in cities is increasing, coverage remains uneven. But are dams and so-called "flexible water allocations", as advocated by the World Bank, the answer?
The UNDP's annual Human Development Report for 2006 focuses on water and advocates small-scale solutions and efficiency improvements to tackle the global water crisis
In the current debate over the rehabilitation of those displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project, the fundamental question about the environmental impact of the dam, and whether such a dam should be built at all, has been forgotten, says Ashish Kothari
In its new report, the World Bank states that India's dams can store only 200 cubic metres of water per person against the US's 5,000 cubic metres per capita. But before advocating more large water storage facilities, the Bank should consider why India is losing over 36 billion cubic metres of existing storage capacity every year
Four foreign companies have been shortlisted to manage water distribution in South Delhi. There are fears that water tariffs may rise 800% as a result. Is privatisation the only way forward?
There appears to have been an imperceptible shift in the World Bank's stand, away from privatisation being the only answer to the world's water crisis, towards a more pragmatic approach of public-private investments. On World Water Day, March 22, Indian non-government organisations and civil society groups will review trends towards private investments in the country
Although last year's budget held out great promise for water harvesting in India, nothing much came of the proposed schemes. Can we expect much more from Budget 2005 due out later this month?
Activists have long lobbied to get both big water firms and the World Bank out of the water sector in the developing world. They may just have succeeded, with the three biggest global players announcing their decision to withdraw. Isn't it time civil society proposed a viable alternative to the Bank and the private sector?
Over 70 hydel projects are being constructed in the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi basins in Uttarakhand, adversely impacting over 9,000 hectares of forest land, the holy confluences of rivers and several wildlife parks. A Wildlife Institute of India report recommends that 24 of these projects be scrapped
The Himachal government has notified that the 1% free power to be made available for ‘local area development’ by hydropower producers would be distributed as annual cash transfers to ‘project-affected’ families. Is it trying to buy people’s silence in the face of increasing community opposition to hydroelectric projects?
Three more hydropower plants on the Mahanadi, which already has the Hirakud dam, will mean that the river will be dammed four times in a 100-km stretch, virtually killing it. To what lengths is the government prepared to go to serve the interests of water-guzzling industry, ask communities and activists who are strongly resisting the Sindhol project