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IDFC: India's water supply at risk
by Staff Writers
New Delhi (UPI) Dec 20, 2011

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India's rising population and economic growth are straining the country's supply of water, a report from India's Infrastructure Development Finance Co. warns.

Of India's 20 major river basins, 14 are considered water-stressed, the report from IDFC, an independent group, report said.

Nearly 25 percent of the country's population live in water-scarce areas, where per capita availability of water is less than 1,000 cubic meters per year and 75 percent of the population live in areas considered water-stressed, where per capita availability of water is less than 2,000 cubic meters per year, the report indicates.

"Increasing population, rapid urbanization and an increased focus on industrial growth would deepen India's water crisis," said IDFC Chief Executive Officer Rajiv Lall.

These factors won't only have far-reaching economic consequences but also increase the likelihood of social and regional conflicts and environmental stress, he added. "We need a paradigm shift in making our water consumption practices more efficient by focusing on reusing, recycling and conserving our limited resources."

As for water usage in 2011, the report says India's agriculture sector consumes 85 percent of the country's water, followed by industry and the energy sector at 9 percent, with households consuming 6 percent.

If current trends continue, the authors project that the availability of water for industry and energy in India will decrease from 492 billion cubic meters to 197 billion cubic meters in 2025.

"Legislation is needed to separate water rights from private land rights," the IDFC report states. "The state may control the use of water through (a) permit or licensing system as is being done in many countries."

Separately, a World Bank report warns that 200 million people in India are at risk of being exposed to natural disasters due to climate change and escalating urbanization.

Because of insufficient data to compile detailed risk assessment programs, the World Bank is teaming with the Indian government to study the rate of migration from rural to urban areas and the resulting impact on the country's infrastructure as well as the level of exposure to natural disasters.

"Hazards are natural, but the disasters don't have to be," said Apurva Sanghi, team leader of the World Bank report, The New York Times reports. "Those are man-made, and a lot can be done cost effectively to prevent damage."

Meanwhile the Indian government and the World Bank are collaborating on several disaster management projects worth $885 million, including cyclone risk mitigation and flood recovery programs.

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