India is going to face a disturbing and a disordered water future. The current system for the development and management of water is not sustainable. There is a need for dramatic change in the way water is managed by the government.
Huge investments were made in water infrastructure in the past. Despite of this fact the storage quantity is relatively small and rainfall is quite inconsistent. On the other hand countries like the US, Australia which are arid have built over 5000 cubic meter of water storage capacity. South Africa, Mexico, Morocco and China which come in the middle income category have a storage capacity of about 1000 cubic meters per capita. Dams in India have a storage capacity of only 200 cubic meters per capita. India has a storage capacity of about 30 days of rainfall, compared to 900 days in major river basins in arid areas of developed countries. Due to the change in the global climate the need for storage is of high importance as it is going to have a great impact on India. There is fear of glacial melting in the western Himalayas in the future, and increased variability of rainfall in large parts of the subcontinent.
Providing adequate quantities of water is not the only problem that the country is facing. The aquatic environment is under great stress because of the constantly growing population, cities and industries. Many rivers have turned into sewers. India’s cities and industries have to learn how to make use of water effectively and there will have to be massive investments in sewers and waste water treatment plants.
Adequate finance is the need of the hour for the sector. As there is a need for rehabilitation of the existing infrastructure and development of new infrastructure, the need for finance is of critical importance. Large proportions of the budget are being spent on personnel, not on real maintenance, and on electricity, irrigation and water supply subsidies. The allocations to the water sector are falling. The end result is a large and growing “financial gap”, which can only be met by a combination of methods which include greater allocations of budgetary resources, more efficient use of those resources, and greater contributions from water users.