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No Water. No Life. No Blue. No Green.

She is a marine biologist and Time Magazine’s first Hero of the planet and among many other things, has also brought the importance of water to the fore yet again, by saying, “No Water. No Life. No Blue. No Green.” 

Sylvia Earle was talking about ocean life when she said these words but, can they not be used for life on earth itself? If there was no water, where would be the greenery? And if there was no efficient water management, what is going to happen to agriculture?

Water use efficiency in India

We may be a global powerhouse in agriculture but we still have some ways to go to achieve better numbers when it comes to water management. Take a look at some of the statistics according to the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change

  • The agriculture sector uses 91% of water
  • Indian agriculture uses upwards of 688 M3 of water every year

Despite this massive usage of a precious resource, India is not doing too well in terms of water management.

India is in the 13th position according to a list released by the World Resources Institute (WRI). And this list details the world’s extremely water-stressed countries. 

Why is it critical to invest in water efficiency?

This might seem like a redundant question - after all, everybody knows that water is essential to life itself. But, it is still worth delving into the answer.

India, like the world, has been impacted by climate change. Add to this the fact that India is not a water rich country and does not have adequate infrastructure to manage water and you get a trifecta that will see demand of water outweighing the availability by leaps and bounds. According to the National Commission on Integrated Water Resources Development, by the year 2050, the projected demand will be 1,180 billion cubic metres (BCM) and the availability a significantly lower number of 1,137 BCM.

India can do better when it comes to usage of rainwater and infrastructure also. Our country gets around 4000 BCM of rainfall per annum. And only around 20% is used due to a lack of storage and infrastructure. 

What are we doing?

This is not an existential question! We are doing a few things to get it right. At the government level, corporate level and the farmers’ level, India is looking at specialised solutions to change the outlook. 

For instance, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), is looking to:

  • Enhance the use of micro irrigation
  • Improve water use efficiency with the mantra ‘more crop per drop’
  • Decentralise State level planning and execution

Farmers are also adopting new agronomic practices such as precision farming, ridge-furrow sowing method and raised bed planting to help improve water usage. 

Incentivising water conservation is also becoming popular. For instance, water meters on pumps help farmers make money if they have saved water against their entitlement.

There is no doubt that it is about collective will - we are coming together to address and correct water use efficiency. Whether it is incentives or initiative, India has to make giant progress; and quickly at that; to de-stress when it comes to water.