International collaborations are ushering in new opportunities and hopes in solving India's water problem.
India's water woes have a long history, rooted in the impact of climate change and pollution, an increasingly unpredictable monsoon, contamination of ground water, inadequate infrastructure to reuse rainwater and wastewater and of course a burgeoning population. According to the NITI Aayog, nearly 70 per cent of water in India is contaminated. Around 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress, and about 0.2 million people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water. Adding that by 2030, the country′s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, leading to severe water scarcity an eventual six per cent loss in the country′s GDP. The bad news is, it's about to gets a lot worse.
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In its latest Water Risk Filter report, the World Wide Fund (WWF) states that 30 Indian cities face imminent water-related risks unless immediate actions are taken to mitigate and curb climate change. The cities identified are Jaipur, Indore, Thane, Vadodara, Srinagar, Rajkot, Kota, Nashik, Visakhapatnam, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Jabalpur, Mumbai, Lucknow, Hubli-Dharwad, Nagpur, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Pune, Dhanbad, Bhopal, Gwalior, Surat, Delhi, Aligarh, Kozhikode, and Kannur. Globally, the report said that the population from areas of high-water risk could rise from 17 per cent in 2020 to 51 per cent by 2050. It's not all doom and gloom, yet.
India's vast diplomatic and strategic outreach, under PM Modi's leadership, has also brought with it aid from international partners. Here are just a few of the countries that India is collaborating with to address its water woes:
India and the UK have long been collaborating on various fronts, water being one of them. The India-UK water centre, which closed down on 30 September 2020, was virtual joint centre established in 2016 and funded by the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and the UK's Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and was instrumental in building several grassroots projects. The Clean Ganga project is an important aspect of bilateral collaboration on water. An MOU signed between the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), UK enables the UK to support Government of India in sustainable management of water resources in the Ganga Basin through collaborative programmes of research and innovation and exchange of policy experts. More recently, the cGanga initiative discussed the introduction of Ganga Bonds - 30 to 50-year bonds critical to financing the water infrastructure needs of the future.
Israel's expertise in water management is demonstratable in the innovation and ingenuity that the country has used to convert vast tracks of arid land into farms. In 2017, during Prime minister Modi's visit to Israel, the two countries signed two between the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation of India and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources of the State of Israel on National Campaign for Water Conservation in India.
In August this year, the India-Israel Bundelkhand Water Project was established between Israel and the Government of Uttar Pradesh, India to tailor and implement the Israeli model for water management to the water challenges of Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh. The project comprises three key-components of the value chain: water conservation, water efficient transportation, and advanced water practices for agriculture.
The recent Green Strategic Partnership, announced at the virtual summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has opened several opportunities for bilateral investment and collaboration between the two countries, including water. In particular, the Danish expertise in sustainable solutions and water management will play a key role in helping India solve its water crisis.
Danish businesses such as Grunfos known for pioneering solutions in all areas of water management sewage treatment, energy recovery, desalination, have already set up operations under the Make in India initiative in the country. These solutions won't just go a long way in solving India's water woes but also help in big river clean-up projects such as the Clean Ganga Programme.