Scarcity and fear
With the scorching summer already in full swing, access to water has become absolutely critical. Latest reports indicate that the volume of water in 91 major reservoirs across the country stood at 35.839 billion cubic metres (BCM) as on April 13. This is just 23 percent of the total storage capacity of the dams surveyed. As per reports, these reservoirs make up a little over 60 percent of India’s total storage capacity, which stands at 253.388 BCM in normal times. In other words, many parts of India will struggle for access to water before the monsoon season makes its way in June. These figures came from the weekly reservoir storage status report issued by the Central Water Commission. “In terms of live storage level in the reservoirs, no region in the country has registered a live storage of even 35 percent of the total dam capacity,” a recent Down to Earth report said. “Live storage is the level at which water can be discharged from reservoirs for use.” On the occasion of World Water Day, a major international charity WaterAid had released a report on the water situation in India. The report unequivocally stated that India has the greatest number of people living without access to safe water. Approximately 76 million people in India are without access to clean and safe water. Poor access to safe water has adverse health effects. According to the report, India’s water problem is down to poor management of water resources. Approximately 85 percent of our water comes from our aquifers. But over pumping water for agriculture and industry has sucked too much of this resource from the ground. Water is being pumped out faster than it can be recharged by rain or surface water run-off. Adding to the problem of scarcity, government agencies estimate that as much of 80 percent of India’s surface water is contaminated and most of it come from untreated sewage that our cities release. As the mercury rises over the course of April and May, governments will have to take urgent remedial measures.