Hyderabad. Prof Asit K Biswas, a leading authority on water and natural resources management, apart from being the distinguished visiting Professor of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (National University of Singapore), on Thursday warned that at least six Indian major cities will run out of water by 2030. Poor policies have left India in one of the worst positions in the world when it comes to water stress, Mr Biswas cautioned in his keynote address at the inaugural session of the International conference on ‘Global Water Security for Agricultural and natural Resources,’ organised by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), in partnership with the Indian Society of Agricultural Engineers (ISAE), here.
“We have brilliant people, but will not allow them to do,” he said, adding that India is no exception to this global trend. Signs of water stresses are all over the country, both in terms of availability and quality.
The situation in India is worse than in many other countries due to decades of poor policies and practices, said Mr Biswas, who founded the Third World Centre for Water Management in Mexico and advised 19 governments and organisations in 40 countries.
Sustained interest in water issues by senior policymakers has been conspicuous by its absence –Indian politicians are only interested in water when there are serious droughts and floods, he pointed out and said that as soon as these are over, their interest simply disappears.
India needs water to meet its current needs, and also for 2050 when its population is predicted to increase by another 450 million, nearly one-third more than at present, he said that all these additional people will need food, energy, industrial and economic development, proper health, education facilities and a good environment to enjoy a good quality of life, and meeting their needs will require increasingly more water.
If India continues with unsatisfactory and unsustainable water management policies, like poor operation and management practices of all water infrastructure, there is no doubt that within the next 12 years many parts of the country will face serious water crises, mostly six major cities will run out of water (not disclosed city names), he also cautioned.
With existing knowledge, technology and management practices, and efficient uses in all sectors, the country should have enough water to last over the next several decades, to meet all potential human needs, he said the water policies in India was very poor compared to China.
India may be an emerging economic giant, but its urban water management practices lag significantly behind other smaller and less developed cities, he said. In India, the main problem was that there is no water storage capacity policy.
India’s water problems are solvable, but they will require sustained political will, building strong water institutions, and ensuring public funds are used efficiently, he said.
Failing to address the challenges will most certainly mean an unprecedented water crisis within the next 12 years in India and the country must improve its existing poor water management policies and practices, he added.
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