By Dr T V Venkateshwaran and Jyoti Singh
New Delhi: The per capita availability of water in India is going down progressively and the situation may become precarious unless the country takes measures like recycling of water in an organized manner, a leading water expert has warned.
The average annual per capita availability of water which stood at 5200 cubic meter per capita per year in 1951 reduced to 1816 cubic meters in 2001 and further plummeting to just 1545 cubic meters as per capita by 2011. This means there has been a decline of 70% decline since 1951. Estimates show that the annual per capita availability is predicted to decrease to 1401 cubic meter by 2025.
According to international norms, 1700 cubic meter per capita per year is required for healthy living and what we have is less than the international norm making India ‘water stressed’. “If the availability falls below 1000 cubic meter per capita per year we would reach ‘water scarce’ situation,” Dr Sharad Jain, Director General of New Delhi-based National Water Development Agency and senior scientist at the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, has warned in an interview.
“India has been witnessing rainfall of 1160 mm annually as compared to world average of 1110 mm. The overall rainfall is bountiful in some years, while in others is a shortfall. Within one monsoon season too, there could be wide variation in rainfall across geographical regions. But the water crisis is not largely due to variability of rainfall but essentially due to increase in population” says Dr Jain. There has been significant increase in the demand of water. At the time of independence India’s population was 33 crores and now it is 133 crores and the amount of water available is almost the same.
The solution, according to Dr Jain, is to promote the concept of recycling of water. “If we do not recycle water many times before we discard it as waste, we are in for serious trouble. In Frankfurt, for instance, one drop of water is recycled eight times before it reaches the sea. Here, we do not recycle even once.”