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India water demand set to double by 2030: study

by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) Nov 24, 2009
India's water needs are set to double by 2030, which could dry up its river basins, according to new research released Tuesday that paints a grim picture for supplies across the emerging world.

Global fresh water demand by 2030 will be 40 percent higher than current supplies and agriculture is predicted to suck up 65 percent of all resources, said the report by the 2030 Water Resources Group.

The initiative, headed by consulting firm McKinsey and Co., studied China, India, South Africa and Sao Paulo state in Brazil -- four areas that together by 2030 will account for 42 percent of projected global water demand.

"The situation is getting worse. There is little indication that, left to its own devices, the water sector will come to a sustainable, cost-effective solution to meet the growing water requirements," it said.

Demand for rice, wheat and sugar will push India's huge agricultural sector to consume 1.5 trillion cubic metres of water by 2030, almost double that of China, said the study, called "Charting Our Water Future: Economic Frameworks to Inform Decision Making."

Warning that "business as usual" could no longer continue, the document said most of India's river basins -- a key source of water for millions across the country -- could also face a severe deficit unless action was taken.

New investment and policies can stem the gap between supply and demand, such as improving water productivity and switching to sustainable agricultural measures.

Current measures to increase water supply such as desalination are more costly and energy-intensive than simple water-saving techniques such as drip irrigation, which feeds water directly to crop roots.

Half of China's demand for water by 2030 is expected to come from the agricultural sector, while 32 percent will come from industry.

Industrial and municipal waste water pollution will widen the supply-demand gap in China by reducing water quality to the extent that it can no longer be considered useable, said the study.

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