According to Falkenmark, a Swedish expert, Where is then water scarcity likely to occur? As you have read in the hydrological cycle, freshwater can be obtained directly from precipitation, surface run off and groundwater. Is it possible that an area or region may have ample water resources but is still facing water scarcity? Many of our cities are such examples. Thus, water scarcity may be an outcome of large and growing population and consequent greater demands for water, and unequal access to it. A large population means more water not only for domestic use but also to produce more food. Hence, to facilitate higher food-grain production, water resources are being over-exploited to expand irrigated areas and dry-season agriculture. You may have seen in many television advertisements that most farmers have their own wells and tube-wells in their farms for irrigation to increase their produce. But have you ever wondered what this could result in? That it may lead to falling groundwater levels, adversely affecting water availability and food security of the people. Post-independent India witnessed intensive industrialisation and urbanisation, creating vast opportunities for us. Today, large industrial houses are as commonplace as the industrial units of many MNCs (Multinational Corporations). The ever-increasing number of industries has made matters worse by exerting pressure on existing freshwater resources. Industries, apart from being heavy users of water, also require power to run them. Much of this energy comes from hydroelectric power. Today, in India hydroeclectric power contributes approximately 22 per cent of the total electricity produced. Moreover, multiplying urban centres with large and dense populations and urban lifestyles have not only added to water and energy requirements but have further aggravated the problem. If you look into the housing societies or colonies in the cities, you would find that most of these have their own groundwater pumping devices to meet their water needs. Not surprisingly, we find that fragile water resources are being over exploited and have caused their depletion in several of these cities. So far we have focused on the quantitative aspects of water scarcity. Now, let us consider another situation where water is sufficiently available to meet the needs of the people, but, the area still suffers from water scarcity. This scarcity may be due to bad quality of water. Lately, there has been a growing concern that even if there is ample water to meet the needs of the people, much of it may be polluted by domestic and industrial wastes, chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers used in agriculture, thus, making it hazardous for human use. have all turned into toxic streams. And even the big ones like the Ganga and Yamuna are far from being pure. The assault on India’s rivers – from population growth, agricultural modernisation, urbanisation and industrialisation – is enormous and growing by the day….. This entire life stands threatened. Source: The Citizens’ Fifth Report, CSE, 1999. You may have already realised that the need of the hour is to conserve and manage our water resources, to safeguard ourselves from health hazards, to ensure food security, continuation of our livelihoods and productive activities and also to prevent degradation of our natural ecosystems. Over exploitation and mismanagement of water resources will impoverish this resource and cause ecological crisis that may have profound impact on our lives.

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