AuthorTopic: 🏜️ India is running out of water, fast  (Read 677 times)

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🏜️ India is running out of water, fast
« on: June 20, 2019, 08:11:11 AM »
Getting serious now...


India is running out of water, fast

Delayed monsoon rains highlight fragility of the water supply in the deeply agrarian South Asian country.
5 hours ago

At least 21 cities in India, including capital New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting around 100 million people.

India's news network NDTV said 40 percent of India's population will have no access to drinking water by 2030, according to a report by the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) - the country's principal planning organisation.

One of the worrying predictions of climate change has been a weakening monsoon season in South Asia. For the last five years, rainfall in the region has been below average, with 2015 being the worst at 86 percent.

This year's late monsoon progress is worrying, with a prolonged heatwave aggravating the situation. From Andhra Pradesh to Bihar, the late onset of monsoon cloud and rain has allowed daily temperatures to remain higher than normal.
Chennai out of water

The city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu state is now virtually out of water, while it has been hitting temperatures over 41C for nine of the last 10 days; on June 10, it was 43C. The average for June in the city is 37C and the record 43.3C.

Millions of people have been forced to rely on water from tank trucks in the southern Tamil Nadu, which had a 62 percent shortfall in monsoon rains last year.

Tamil Nadu's fisheries minister D Jayakumar said the government has been making up for the deficiency created by successive failed monsoons. He said the government would be able to manage the crisis until the northeast monsoon, which brings rains to the state between October and December.

The minister said around 400 water tankers were making 9,000 trips distributing water across Chennai. "At a time when even nature is not offering a helping hand, we are pumping one thousand million cubic feet of water from Mettur to Veeranam lake, from where the water is channelised into the city," he said.

Deficient rainfall during the 2017 northeast monsoon and a failed monsoon in 2018 have resulted in the depletion of groundwater levels and the near drying-up of major water bodies. Four major lakes around Chennai - Chembarambakkam, Poondi, Red Hills and Cholavaram - are almost dry.

While 70 percent of India’s population depends on agriculture, 75 percent of water required for the fields comes from the southwest monsoon. Water storage in reservoirs appears insufficient for irrigation and drinking supplies and boreholes down to the groundwater are commonplace.

The increasing population, increase in irrigation requirements, the need for drinking water and deficient monsoon rains have obvious consequences. Boreholes are drawn on for greater supply and the groundwater level consequently drops even further.
New water crisis ministry

India's government has created a new ministry to grapple with a growing water crisis, with more than 60 percent of the country's 1.3 billion people dependent on farming and good monsoon rains.

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind says the new Ministry of Water Power will tackle water conservation and management, Reuters news agency reported on Thursday.

Kovind told parliament that traditional water conservation practices are disappearing as ponds and lakes are filled to build houses.
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So 40% of the population dies of thirst because they can't afford to buy Nestle water.  What's the big deal?  They're POOR people!


Chennai water crisis in India leaves millions reliant on filthy wells and expensive trucked-in supply

By Arshad R. Zargar

Updated on: June 20, 2019 / 10:37 AM / CBS News

Indian workers carry water collected from what's left in the Puzhal reservoir, on the outskirts of Chennai, June 20, 2019. Getty

New Delhi -- Millions of people in the South Indian city of Chennai, the country's sixth largest metropolis, are facing an acute water shortage as the main reservoirs have dried up after a poor monsoon season. Some schools in the city have cut working hours and dozens of hotels and some restaurants have reportedly shut down due to the shortage.

The city of more than 4.5 million has been left to rely on wells and water brought in by truck. Thousands of wells dug across the city are leading to a rapid drop in the ground water level, and raising even further the concerns of environmentalists.

New wells are being dug as deep as 1,000 feet. Much of the water they produce isn't even fit to drink.

"We have been facing this for the past two months," Aditya Manoharan, a student in Chennai, told CBS News. "The bore well water is so dirty that it's yellow in color. We can't drink it."
Price gouging

The well water can be used for washing, but residents have to buy bottled drinking water, and not everyone can afford it.

In parts of the city that don't have wells, water has been supplied by government trucks. Long lines of people waiting with buckets to collect from the trucks have become a common sight.

But the government trucks are only able to meet part of the demand, leaving the rest of the population at the mercy of private vendors, who appear to be making a killing off the crisis. A private truck carrying about 3,200 gallons of water would have cost around 1,500 Rupees (about $22) in April. Now such a delivery is going for about $85.

A man uses a hand-pump to fill up a container with drinking water as others wait in a queue on a street in Chennai, India, June 17, 2019. REUTERS

Reghu Ram, a filmmaker who has lived in the city for eight years, told CBS News the cost of such a private water supply "would mean about 50% of the monthly income of a significant part of the population."

Ram sent his parents, with whom he had lived in the city, back to their hometown until the water crisis is resolved. That's not expected to happen until October or November, when the rains should begin again.

All four of the primary reservoirs that supply water to the city have dried up, either partly or completely.

On Tuesday, K. Palaniswami, chief minister of Tamil Nadu state where Chennai is located, acknowledged the crisis would continue for about five more months. "Until then we have to meet the requirements only from groundwater sources," he said.
Environmental concerns

"The water table in Chennai is seriously compromised," ecologist and biodiversity expert Dr. Jayashree Vencatesan told CBS News. "There is rampant extraction through bore wells in south Chennai. There are no guidelines; things are in a mess."

Vencatesan has studied 200 years worth of data on Chennai's monsoon seasons. She told CBS News the data analysis by herself and other researchers at the Care Earth Trust show a marked change around nine years ago; while the overall amount of rain has remained roughly the same, the number of days with rainfall have reduced drastically. In other words, more days with severe downpours and less steady, sustained rainfall. That leads to more quick runoff and less flowing in a controlled way into reservoirs.

"This may be a case of climate change," she said.

Climate scientists have warned that the increase in average global temperatures appears to be causing earlier melting of Arctic ice, which can have a broad impact on the Earth's climate over the course of a year -- bringing exactly the kind of dramatic changes in weather patterns that the data from India reflect.

While this year's monsoon will likely bring relief in the autumn, environmentalists believe there needs to be a long-term water conservation plan to avoid such crises in the future -- not just in Chennai but across India.

"Water needs to be treated as a highly limited resource," Vencatesan said. "There is a gap between government policy and the implementation."

An alarming report last year by the Indian government's own research institute, NITI Aayog, warned that 21 Indian cities, including New Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, would run out of groundwater by 2020.

The report also said 40% of India's 1.34 billion people would have no access to drinking water by 2030. More than 600 million Indians are facing "acute water shortage" already, according to the report.

First published on June 20, 2019 / 10:21 AM
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