World water day: Can India keep its taps running, amid a spike in demand?

[] Are we ready to meet the sharp increase in water demand? On world water day, News takes stock

As we celebrate World Water Day on March 22, 2021, it is also an occasion to take stock of the potentially alarming water situation in our country and how it could redefine real-estate development in the years to come.

You are reading: World water day: Can India keep its taps running, amid a spike in demand?

Even as the availability of fresh water is reducing, due to factors ranging from climate change to reduced groundwater recharge, the consumption and demand are increasing by the day. It is estimated that by 2030 the demand for water in India will be double the supply and large parts of the country will become water-stressed zones.

According to estimates, more than 40% of India’s population will not have access to drinking water and more than 600 million people will face acute water shortage for their basic needs. This scenario of scarcity, is likely to play out across the country, from villages and small towns to emerging cities and bustling metros. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), expanding both, upwards and outwards, for example, will be at the forefront of this water challenge and the time to work on solutions is now.

Limited supply

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Whether it is premium housing projects in the island city or the affordable projects in the extended suburbs of the MMR, water is a basic necessity for every home. All the amenities and lifestyle-features offered by the developers have their place but the most precious amenity is the water flowing from the tap. Even as new buildings and homes are being added by the thousands each year, the available water remains more or less the same, putting increasing pressure on the supply, for every segment and region of the metropolis.

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While the BMC’s supplies are already strained and we are seeing water cuts for some months every year, cities like Navi Mumbai and Thane that have invested early in building huge capacities for their future growth, are relatively better off. Smaller cities like Mira-Bhayandar and Vasai-Virar are struggling to meet the growing demand and extended areas like Vangani, Ambernath and Karjat, are already facing acute shortage. While a part of this pressure can be eased by cutting the huge distribution losses, it will take a serious effort on the part of all stakeholders, to conserve and recycle water at much higher levels, to ensure an optimum level of water supply for the future. With limited scope to augment storage capacities, the solution will come primarily through sustainable practices.

Also read: Methods of water conservation

The way forward

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Consider this – nearly 30% of the water in homes is used for flushing toilets and this can be the starting point for using recycled water. Even as recycling technologies are being refined with each passing year, the application of recycled water can be increased across residential, commercial and industrial sites, collectively yielding huge savings of fresh water. On the other hand, with only 8% of rainwater being conserved in the country currently, there is immense scope for saving this fresh water from draining away into the sea. If the volume of rainwater harvesting can be enhanced, with better methods, it will go a long way in augmenting the supply of fresh water in urban areas.

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The way forward is to create sustainable infrastructure and engage all stakeholders, to encourage a systematic behavioural change process. When you engage people and encourage a change of mindset, it not only leads to a sense of ownership but also ensures that people who have the need, are part of the solution – which eventually makes the solution sustainable and long-term. A good starting point, would be for the government to build awareness about the need to conserve water for the future and create a dedicated platform for all stakeholders, like non-profits, experts, planners, architects, developers and consumers, to come together and work collectively towards the common goal of a water-secure future.

(The writer is director, National Builders)

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Category: Lifestyle

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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