Discourse of the Day, Meanwhile in Countries not called America

Meanwhile in Countries not called America- India’s Water Crisis

Water. The source of all life and something most of us in the western world take for granted will be there when we need it. But clean water is not something that just happens. It is the result of complex systems engineered to keep us safe from harmful diseases and bacteria that our predecessors on this planet so often fell victim to. It’s not flashy and its certainly not cheap, but water infrastructure is perhaps the most important investment a nation can make. Without it, a country can grind to a halt and risk serious disease and even famine for its citizenry. Thanks to years of mismanagement and neglect this is a future that is drawing closer and closer for one of the world’s most populous nations.
A few weeks ago the National Institute to Transform India (Niti Aayog) released a troubling report that outlined India’s current water crisis which is being labeled the worst in the nation’s history. It paints a bleak picture of the coming years, asserting that many of India’s largest cities will likely run out of usable groundwater by the year 2020 and that a food shortage is sure to follow since four-fifths of the nation’s water is used in agriculture. The report estimates that some two hundred thousand Indians die each year because they lack access to clean water. The government’s remedy to this problem is to send in tankers full of clean water to affected areas where citizens can queue to fill buckets to carry back to their homes.
But this is a band-aid solution at best and is already proving unfeasible and ineffective. The true problem lies with the nation’s outdated and insufficient piping system. For the most part, India’s water infrastructure was built by the British over seventy years ago with what even at the time were considered cheap materials. And while there have been additions and renovations since then the majority of that outmoded system has been left in place because no one in the Indian government had the political will or foresight to invest in a complete overhaul. In the cities, it’s a fifty-fifty proposition if your home is equipped to have the pipes to receive clean water and in rural India, those odds drop even further.
Mismanagement and poor infrastructure are the root causes of India’s problem but have been exacerbated by other factors such as a population boom and a changing protein-heavy diet that requires more water to produce. Also corrupting India’s drinking water are industrial pollutants from India’s high pressure, little environmental oversight industrial boom and biological waste resulting from poor sanitation practices and infrastructure. At current rates, the Niti Aayog report estimates that by the year 2030 India’s demand for water will be twice that of its supply.
The situation is not without hope. There are plenty of low-cost emerging technologies India could turn to that could turn things around for them. But these solutions would require a real effort from both India’s politicians and her people. Sadly there are few signs that such an effort is forthcoming.

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